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DPS warns about online auto scams

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The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is warning buyers to beware when purchasing vehicles online.  Since December 2016, the Criminal Investigations Division in Austin has investigated 15 cases of vehicles that were purchased online through popular social media sites that were later reported stolen.  DPS is investigating each of the cases in attempt to identify the seller and file the appropriate charges.

“If a deal is too good to be true, then you should be concerned that it could be a scam,” says DPS Regional Commander Freeman Martin “Scams are sometimes identified when the vehicle has a low price or a personal history is given as to why the price is low, such as salvage vehicles and vehicles with flood damage.”

Before purchasing a vehicle online, DPS provides the following safety tips:

  • Research before you buy. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles offers Title Check. Provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for the car you would like to purchase, and the VIN is run through a national consumer protection database for a low fee. The report gives the vehicle’s title history, which includes if the vehicle was in the possession of a junk or salvage yard or declared a “total loss” by an insurance company. See   for additional details.    
  • Be aware that sellers can make fake vehicle titles and fake identification. 
  • Watch for cash only ads or payment methods that require you to wire money. 
  • Conduct an online appraisal to see what the estimated price of a car should be.
  • Conduct the purchase and title transfer at the same time at the courthouse during business hours.

If the deal appears too good to be true, walk away

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