As we approach the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated much of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the scams connected with the storm have moved to a different level. At the time of the storm I warned you about a number of different types of scams that always follow in the wake of such natural disasters, including phony charities and phony aid workers. However, recently another scam connected to Hurricane Sandy has arisen. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has just issued a warning to consumers to be on the lookout for used cars with phony title papers that indicate that the particular used car in which you are interested is from Oregon when in fact, these cars are cars that were on the East Coast during Hurricane Sandy with many of them containing hidden water damage that could present serious safety problems.
Whenever you purchase a used car you should always get a full report on its history. The United States Department of Justice operates The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System which provides much information about used cars. The NVMTIS provides a list of various companies such as Carfax that have been approved to provide reliable reports. these companies charge between $2.95 and $12.99 for a report that will provide detailed information on any used car you are considering purchasing. One recent report for a car purported to be from Oregon showed a damage report filed in November of 2012 that showed the car listed as a total loss vehicle with a salvage title listed in New York and a new title later issued in Oregon. This practice of transporting a car to another state and re-registering it is called “title washing.” Also, you should have a mechanic whom you trust always check out any used car that you are considering buying.