In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas, and with Hurricane Irma heading for Florida, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others are warning consumers to be cautious if buying a used car soon.
They said unscrupulous dealers may try to bring flood-damaged vehicles to places like New York State for quick sales.
“Extreme weather will continue to test our state, and although it brings out the best in New Yorkers, it unfortunately brings out the worst in scam artists who use a devastating situation to make a quick buck,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“This year’s hurricane season has already destroyed hundreds of thousands of vehicles in Texas, and with more storms expected, I am urging all consumers to check the VIN of used cars by visiting the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck database.”
VINs are vehicle identification numbers where buyers can track a car or truck’s origins.
The free VINCheck data base can indicate if a vehicle has been reported as salvaged, which could indicate serious water damage.
Cars that have been flooded can sustain heavy damage to their electronic components, engines and transmissions.
“There are thousands of honest people selling vehicles at fair prices, but when it comes to car shopping, the old adage holds true: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner at the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Experts say Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy damaged nearly a half-million vehicles. Early estimates indicate Harvey may double that number.
The NCIB data base is here https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck and the state DMV base is here, https://dmv.ny.gov/brochure/let-buyer-be-aware#_blank