Hurricane Sandy was a terrible storm that wiped out hundreds of homes and businesses in the Northeast. In addition, personal property was damaged and destroyed including thousands of vehicles which were impacted by the massive flooding.
Automobile Sales Fraud Involving Flood Damaged Vehicles from Hurricane Sandy
Autochannel.com reported on January 17, 2013 that consumers need to do their homework if they are looking into buying a used car or truck because many flood damaged cars and trucks from Superstorm Sandy may be on the market and damage caused by flooding can be hard to spot. When an unscrupulous seller hides the fact a vehicle has been in a flood or does not disclose any other type of hidden problem, this constitutes automobile sales fraud. Fortunately for consumers in Georgia, Atlanta consumer protection attorneys are experts at helping consumers who have been defrauded by an unprincipled seller.
Insurance companies and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) have been working to get the damaged vehicle VIN numbers from the Hurricane Sandy storm into national and state databases so their history of flood damage will be on the record. Flooding can cause hidden damage, especially to the electrical system and electrical components in a vehicle which does not become apparent until months later.
Steps to Help Protect Yourself from Automobile Sales Consumer Fraud
There are steps you can take to help ensure that the used vehicle you are going to purchase is in good used condition. Some of these steps are;
- Write down the VIN# and check the NICB website – it’s free to check
- Request a vehicle title history from your states Department of Motor Vehicles
- Request a vehicle history report from an agency such as CarFax
- Have a professional inspect the vehicle
- Check the title to see if was ever registered in a flood affected area
You can examine the vehicle yourself looking for signs of damage such as rust, mold, and grit under the dash or in the engine compartment, truck or undercarriage. Does the vehicle smell musty or have any mismatched cushions or stained upholstery? Check out the vehicles electronics testing the lights, gauges, wipers, turn signals, windows, heat & air. Although you can look for some of these possible clues yourself, an unscrupulous seller may have taken steps to conceal damage cosmetically and getting a professional inspection might be best.
Although you may have trusted your seller or the business that sold you a used vehicle, if it turns out that previous damage to the vehicle was hidden and not disclosed to you, you may have a strong case for consumer fraud. Buying a car and then finding out that it had prior serious damage can be very costly for you and it would be a wise move to get the advice of an Athens consumer fraud attorney so you know what legal options are available to you.
Hurt, Stolz & Cromwell LLC Experienced Georgia Consumer Protection Attorneys
Contact Hurt, Stolz & Cromwell, LLC for help if you find yourself the victim of automobile sales fraud or any type of consumer fraud. Our Atlanta consumer protection attorneys specialize in finding solutions for victims of Georgia consumer fraud with offices in Atlanta and Athens as well as helping resolve cases of consumer fraud across the nation.