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Gephardt: Vehicle history report scam targets people selling cars in online classifieds

By Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV | Posted - Jun. 28, 2020 at 5:18 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY – Vehicle history reports have become a big part of the used-car buying process. They can be very helpful in learning about a car’s past, before we hand over thousands of dollars to a stranger we have only met through the online classifieds.

But now, thieves are using these reports to trick people into handing over their cash, and their identities.

After a decade of commuting around town in his blue Kia Spectra, James Van Roosendaal was ready to move on to a new set of wheels. So, he posted the Kia up for sale in the online classifieds.

Among the texts he’s received from interested buyers came one saying they are interested, but wanted Van Roosendaal to send him the “NVAR papers” before arranging to take a day off so they could see his car.

Van Roosendaal had not heard of “NVAR papers” before. When he asked for clarification, it turned out the prospective buyer wanted him to send a car history report.

“Well, I already have a report for Carfax, I can show you what that shows,” was Van Roosendaal’s response. But no, a Carfax was not going to cut it for this buyer.

“And, they gave me a very specific URL to go for that report,” Van Roosendaal explained.

He was supposed to go to that URL, pay for the $25 report and forward it back to the prospective buyer. Now, $25 does not sound like a lot to lose, but the whole thing seemed off to Van Rosendaal, so he contacted the KSL Investigators.

“Something was a little bit fishy,” he told us.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau are sounding the horn about schemes where bad guys steer sellers to bogus car history report websites.

First, it’s an easy way to pocket $25. But identity theft is also a big possibility: These sites often ask for names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit cards and so on. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the bogus site could be a malware nightmare for your computer or phone.

Van Roosendaal’s instinct was spot on.

“I just hope that people would avoid that and be able to see through it,” he said.

So, if a potential buyer demands you buy a car history report from a site you’ve never heard of — don’t do it. There are legitimate and reputable history reports available, including Carfax, which costs around $40 for a single report, and AutoCheck, which goes for around $25 for a report.

You should also know that the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or NMVTIS has teamed up with several legitimate providers to offer consumers car history reports for as little as $10. By law, insurance providers, salvage and junkyards are required to report car info to the NMVTIS.

Matt Gephardt
    Sloan Schrage

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