The mechanic’s lien title scam is one of the oldest title scams in the book. As a consumer, you may not be familiar with the steps of a mechanic’s lien process, but what you should know is that it’s a powerful legal process that is not taken lightly.

What is a mechanic’s lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a legal right that attaches to real property (in this case, the property being the vehicle) and protects mechanics who have done work on a car. Mechanics are able to file liens against cars after they have performed repairs/repairs on them because they have been damaged by the owner. The purpose of this law is to prevent mechanics from having their work go unpaid by people who abandon their cars before paying for repairs.

Similar to a mechanic, towing companies and storage facilities can also file mechanic’s liens, sometimes referred to as towing liens or storage liens, respectively.

The scam goes something like this…

Scammers will use skip tracing technology to search through repo lists, delinquent loan lists, and other collection agency lists. Once their lists are created, they will contact these people saying that they can get them a clean title for their vehicle, despite the owner being behind on their loan payments.

The scammer, who is actually an unscrupulous body shop or fake company posing as a legitimate body shop, will charge the vehicle owner hundreds of dollars for their clean title and will typically keep the owner in the dark about the title recovery process being used. After receiving payment, the scammer will use the mechanic’s lien process to apply for a new certificate of title for the vehicle.

In most states, the mechanic’s lien process requires that the vehicle be sold at auction to the highest bidder. The scammer may require you to bid on your own vehicle to get it back, or it may end up being sold to someone else. Regardless, once the car has been sold under a mechanic’s lien auction, it cannot be undone.

What makes this scam illegal?

There are many reasons why this mechanic’s lien title scam is illegal. The main reasons are fraud and that the process is being misused. This scam not only defrauds the vehicle owner but also defrauds the lender by improperly removing the loan and the next buyer by giving them an invalid title. You can use the mechanic’s lien process to get a title, but only if the vehicle and circumstances meet very specific requirements. The mechanic’s lien process cannot be used to remove a lien that has not yet been satisfied.

The bottom line is – if someone says they can get you a clean car title using a mechanic’s lien process, it’s a scam. The mechanic’s lien process is only applicable under very specific circumstances and cannot be used by consumers as a method of title recovery. When in doubt, ask questions and get legal advice if needed. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.

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