Car Buying Consumer Warning

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9.7.21

Car Buying Consumer Warning


The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is alerting Californians to be cautious when buying used vehicles being advertised for sale online through sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up. The DMV has seen an increase in illegal activity of stolen vehicles being sold to unsuspecting consumers online due to the shortage of new vehicles available for sale.

Criminals are stealing vehicles, altering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), creating a fraudulent certificate of title, and then posting them for sale online. The car thieves are taking advantage of the vehicle shortage and eager consumers by listing the stolen vehicles for well below market value to encourage buyers to take quick action.

“With an increase in stolen vehicles being sold online, we are reminding consumers that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “Californians planning to make a large cash purchase of a vehicle from someone they do not know should proceed with caution.”

Tips to avoid purchasing a stolen vehicle:
  1. Obtain an online VIN history report
  2. Compare the name of the owner on the title (pink slip) to the name of the seller
  3. Insist on meeting the seller at a local DMV office to complete the sale and vehicle transfer
  4. Meet at a local law enforcement location to verify the vehicle before you complete the transaction
  5. Take note of the seller's car and attempt to confirm their identity
If you believe you may have purchased a stolen vehicle with a fraudulent certificate of title, immediately contact DMV Investigations at (661) 836-2291.

Legitimate title transfers and many other DMV activities can be accomplished online at dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv-online/.

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