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Purchasing from unlicensed dealers can be costly

Cheaper now can be more expensive later: what to know about curbers.
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Buying from a curber is risky, and you have fewer legal protections compared to buying from a licensed dealer.

REGINA — Due to the unusually low inventory and increased prices of vehicles, consumers may be considering alternative ways to purchase a vehicle.

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) reminds residents to double-check whom you are buying your vehicle from to avoid driving off in a lemon.

"Curbers" are unlicensed dealers who flip used vehicles for a profit. Since curbers are unlicensed, fewer legal protections are in place than when purchasing a vehicle from a licensed dealer. 

"Buying from a curber is risky. Curbers do not have a license to sell vehicles and regularly misrepresent the condition of the vehicle they are selling," Consumer Protection Executive Director Denny Huyghebaert said. "Often, curbers pose as a person selling a vehicle privately, but in truth, they have bought multiple vehicles from an auction or a salvage yard, cleaned them up, and made superficial repairs, before selling the vehicles without providing any history or disclosure to the consumer."

How can I spot a curber?

Buying from a curber is risky, and you have fewer legal protections compared to buying from a licensed dealer. 

Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Vehicle Registration: If the vehicle is not registered in the seller's name or has only been registered to their name for a short period of time, they may be a curber.
  • Multiple listings: If you see multiple vehicles listed with the same phone number and no dealer name or dealer license number is contained in the listing, or the seller asks "which one" when you call about the ad, they may be a curber. 
  • Suspiciously low price: Curbers entice buyers with below market prices.  
  • No pre-sale inspection: Curbers will often refuse to allow a vehicle inspection by the purchaser's mechanic. Be suspicious if the seller does not allow you to obtain a vehicle inspection.
  • Meeting away from their home: Curbers may insist on meeting at coffee shops or mall parking lots to show you the vehicle and finalize the sale.
  • High pressure and emotional sales tactics: Curbers pressure to close the sale quickly, or use a sob story to distract the purchaser with guilt and sympathy. 
  • Cash sales only: Curbers may pressure to pay with cash and avoid providing a receipt or proof of purchase that includes their name and address.

Licensed dealers must:

  • disclose the vehicle's history;
  • ensure the vehicle meets the minimum safety requirements to be driven, unless expressly disclosed;
  • certify that the vehicle is free from liens, unless expressly disclosed;
  • use a contract that has been filed for use; 
  • be bonded; and
  • have a locatable address.

If you purchased a vehicle from an unlicensed dealer, the FCAA may not be able to assist you. However, action may be taken to protect future purchasers. 

If you believe the person you purchased a vehicle from is operating as an unlicensed dealer (use the FCAA 411 public search) to see if they are licensed) or if you think you've spotted a curber, you can report them to us by email: consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca or by calling 887-880-5550.

To learn more about curbers, visit our website at https://fcaa.gov.sk.ca/consumers-investors-pension-plan-members/consumers/purchasing-goods-and-services/purchasing-and-repairing-a-vehicle/curbers.

 

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