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A Look at the Practice of Curbstoning

» Posted July 13, 2016Resources | Share This Post

Car buyers can face many different issues with car dealers or manufacturers. In some cases, when a car turns out to be defective after purchase, a lemon law lawyer can help the buyer take action. In many other situations, it can be a challenge for the victim of a scam to get compensation. This is especially true when a car buyer loses money due to curbstoning.

How Does Curbstoning Harm Car Buyers?

Simply put, curbstoning occurs when someone passes himself or herself off as a qualified, licensed car dealer, despite lacking a license and not actually being a legitimate automobile dealer, according to CARFAX.  Those who engage in curbstoning often set up their “shop” in a parking lot or on a curb.

When this “shop” has been set up, those engaged in curbstoning usually sell clunkers which are unreliable vehicles and which have a host of serious problems. In some cases, the cars have actually had their odometers rolled back in order to misrepresent the true mileage on the vehicle.

In one case, for example, a car was being marketed by a curbstoner as having just 96,000 miles on it. An investigation revealed that the car actually had 145,000 miles -- a substantial difference in mileage.  Some of the vehicles sold by these dealers also have salvaged titles, but the buyers are not told the cars are a salvage vehicle and in some cases the titles have actually been doctored.

When someone buys a problem car from a “dealer” who isn't really a dealer but who is curbstoning instead, the problem for the buyer is that the dealer will probably disappear if there is any problem with the vehicle.  Even when the buyer has substantial proof the dealer has scammed him, finding the dealer could be impossible and there would be no way to recover the money which was wasted on the defective vehicle.

Car buyers can try to protect themselves by being careful in transactions involving small “dealers” or in transactions involving private sellers.  One way to identify when a car seller may be curbstoning is to copy the phone number on their car ads and post it into a search engine. ABC 7 reported that when it copied the phone number from some of the private seller ads on Craigslist into a search engine, it found dozens of vehicle ads attached to each phone number. 

You can also use Auto Check and CARFAX to find out about the vehicle history by inputting the VIN number. The Better Business Bureau also recommends having an independent mechanic check out the car before purchasing it.

Making sure you buy from legitimate dealers and having a car checked out can go a long way towards helping to avoid transportation problems in the future. Unfortunately, even buyers of new cars can sometimes experience problems if their vehicle turns out to be a lemon with defects. An Orange County lemon law attorney can provide help to car buyers looking for recourse when their new car turns out to have serious problems.


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