Vehicle title scams are a scary reality. A vehicle title transfer is a legal process so one may think it’s difficult to pull off a vehicle title scam, but it’s important to remember that scammers also know these legal processes and how to get around them without being detected.

What is the ownership transfer scam?

The ownership transfer scam is one of the oldest scams in the book and is still seen frequently. If someone says you need to transfer ownership to get a clean title, this is a red flag.

The scam goes something like this…

Someone will claim to be able to clear the lien off of your title, remove the bonded stamp, or get a new name printed on the front. They’ll tell you that the easiest way for them to help is if you signed over the title so they can sign the documents personally without a power of attorney. 

Once you sign the title over, that’s it. The scammer can then transfer the title into their name because they have the signed certificate of title from you. If this happens, you won’t be able to report the vehicle as stolen because it’s no longer in your name.

How to spot an ownership transfer scam

  1. If someone tells you that you have to transfer your ownership to their name to avoid a power of attorney, this is a scam. Power of attorney is designed to protect you and your best interests.
  2. If someone claims to be able to remove a title brand or lienholder, this is a scam. It is illegal in all 50 states to improperly remove a title brand or lienholder/security interest from a vehicle title.
  3. If someone makes any of the above claims and adds an unnecessary sense of urgency to the transaction, this is likely a scam. By making the situation seem urgent, the scammer is hoping you’ll just accept and not ask questions.

Vehicle title scams have been around for a while, but they continue to be popular among scammers due to the fact that they offer such a low-risk/high-reward scenario. Often, these scams are successful because they’re so unexpected and confusing for consumers. The best way to protect yourself from any type of scam is to be vigilant and educate yourself on common scam tactics.

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