The Williamson County tax assessor is urging residents to protect themselves when purchasing a used vehicle this holiday season, especially from online sources such as Craigslist.
Recent flooding due to Hurricane Harvey produced between 500,000 and one million flood-damaged vehicles. The potential exists for dishonest sellers to provide fake or altered titles or other documentation of flood damaged vehicles, especially those vehicles that were not involved in an insurance claim, said tax assessor Larry Gaddes.
Many times, customers are unaware the vehicle they are purchasing is flood damaged, salvaged, rebuilt or even stolen.
Gaddes offers these steps to help protect buyer and seller of used motor vehicles:
* View the vehicle title history using the title check feature on the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, www.txdmv.gov. The vehicle identification is needed and there is a small fee for the service.
* Check online appraisals to see what the estimated price of a vehicle should be. If the deal seems too good to be true, it may be better to walk away or take the vehicle to your mechanic for inspection.
* Complete a physical inspection of the vehicle including pulling up the carpet. Google how to spot a flood damaged car.
* Understand that fake vehicle titles and other documentation can be made by dishonest sellers.
* Whenever possible, both the buyer and seller should complete the title transfer together at the Tax Office. This helps to ensure the buyer is receiving the correct title documents and it is also the seller’s way of ensuring the title is transferred out of their name.