Buyer Beware when Buying a used Vehicle Privately in Edmonton and Alberta!

Consumer Alert!

Buyer Beware when Buying a used Vehicle Privately in Edmonton and Alberta!

Many of us who are in the market to buy a used car or truck want to get the best vehicle that we can afford, by spending the least amount of money possible. Unfortunately, there are a large number of people who prey on our desire to get a good deal, and fraudulently sell unsafe vehicles to unwary buyers, for what may seem to be a great price.

These “Curbers” operate their business without any regard for our laws, and more importantly, without any regard for your safety. In order for anyone to be in the business of selling motor vehicles in Alberta, they must have an automotive business license and an automotive salesperson registration. Both of these are issued by the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council.

Curbers make it their business to obtain vehicles at a low price and then sell them at a greatly inflated price. They often do this by obtaining vehicles that have previously been wrecked, or had other severe mechanical or safety problems, at a very low cost. The Curbers will then make minor or cosmetic repairs to the vehicle, and then re-sell the vehicle, even though it is not in any way safe to be on the road. Curbers will often advertise these vehicles in local auto sale publications, or simply by putting a for sale sign on it and parking it in an abandoned lot or on a side street. When an interested buyer enquires about the vehicle, the Curbers usually has a yarn to tell, explaining why they are selling this vehicle.

In their rush to get a good deal, the buyer will often take the Curbers story at face value and purchase the vehicle without any further investigation. Many later regrets having had this trust.

If you want to purchase a vehicle privately instead of going to a licensed sales business, then you should take precautions.

Remember These Steps:

  • Ask to see the most recent registration and insurance for the vehicle, and to see receipts for any service done on the vehicle. This will be a good indication if they are being truthful. If they cannot provide them, then shop somewhere else.
  • Don’t be rushed into buying the vehicle through any coercion, such as the seller making a statement that they have another interested buyer coming to look at the vehicle and it won’t last long.
  • Bring a friend with you. It’s a good idea to have a witness for the transaction and to help keep you on track.
  • You can check if a vehicle has been reported stolen by searching the VIN on the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. The CPIC check is free.
  • If the seller won’t allow you to come to their residence, and instead wants to meet at some place neutral, it is a good indication that they are hiding something. Don’t bother meeting with them.
  • If you do want the vehicle, get it inspected by your own independent mechanic.
  • Check the vehicles history by getting a vehicle history report. Carfax will give you important information from a third party. You can get these at Registry Agents or via INTERNET web sites.
  • Check for liens on the vehicle to make sure that the person selling it to you actually owns it.
  • Never, never be in a rush to buy a vehicle. There are plenty of other vehicles out there.
  • Don’t buy a vehicle at night. If you are uncomfortable at all, walk away. Play it safe. Buy from an AMVIC licensed business.

You should do all of this before you give the seller any money at all. If they are legitimate, they won’t mind you being cautious. If the seller balks, then no matter how good the deal may seem, go shop somewhere else. Ultimately, if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Organized Curbers that have purchased written off vehicles in the United States, imported them into Canada, repaired them and then sold them across Canada. They somehow get the vehicles with Active status in the government computer system hiding that the vehicle was a write off. They advertise them and then lie about the history of the vehicle. Many unsuspecting Albertans were deceived by these sophisticated “Curbers/crooks”.

AMVIC investigates individuals that are curbing vehicles. If you know someone that you suspect is curbing vehicles, please contact AMVIC at 1-877-279-8200. You can also visit the AMVIC website at

Buying a vehicle privately

Protect Yourself from Curbers

If you are not buying from a registered dealer, make sure you don’t become a Curbers victim. Curbers or curbsiders pose as private individuals but are actually in the business of selling poor quality, stolen, rebuilt, odometer-tampered vehicles or vehicles that still have liens. These fraud artists sell damaged or defective vehicles to unsuspecting consumers. Curbers don’t all look the same. Some pose as individuals selling their vehicle privately and others look like legit businesses.

Here are three things to watch for:

Check the Vehicle’s History

Insist that the seller provide you with background on the vehicle that you can independently verify, like the name of the previous owner, vehicle repair records, anything that tells you the history of the vehicle’s ownership. Don’t sign the deal without it. If the seller refuses to provide it, walk away.

Check the Vehicle’s Registration

Make sure the vehicle you are buying is registered in the name of the seller. If it isn’t, ask questions and find out why. Otherwise, you may be buying the vehicle from a curber.

Have your Mechanic Check the Vehicle?

Before you agree to buy the vehicle, get an unbiased opinion from a mechanic you trust. Remember: If you buy from a curber, you have nowhere to turn if things go wrong. Don’t take any risks – avoid doing business with Curbers.