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Car buyers, don’t get taken for a ride

Published October 12, 2012

The Internet makes car buying easy but consumers can get taken for a ride by “curbsiding” and “tag-teaming” wheelers and dealers.

“Curbsiders” are illegal vendors posing as private sellers or small business owners in online ads offering popular and high-end model vehicles, and “tag-teaming” happens when two illegal car sellers in different locations work together, enticing victims to buy cars that may have questionable histories.

Such scams are an emerging trend in online auto sales, according to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), which has launched its fall consumer awareness campaign.

“Ontarians need to be careful when buying online. They need to become educated and learn to spot the common tactics curbsider’s use,” says Carey Smith, OMVIC’s director of investigations. “If the car is much cheaper than most other models of the same year and mileage, the consumer should be very cautious and consider walking away from the deal.”

In a province-wide probe, random calls were made to “private” vehicle sellers with ads posted on free online websites and some very clear signs of curbsiding emerged.

“Stop asking stupid questions,” was one seller’s response to a potential buyer when she asked if the advertised vehicle had been in any major accidents. Another suspicious seller was confused about which vehicle the caller was inquiring about.

Smith advises asking to see the seller’s driver’s licence and compare it to the car’s registration, and if they don’t match, don’t buy it. Ignore any excuses or explanations.

“Don’t get sucked in by a cheap price. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

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