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Can i sue the dealerships for vehicle title fraud?

El Paso, TX |
Filed under: Lemon law Used cars

About a year and a half ago I bought a used car from a used car dealership. Three months ago I went to trade it in at a different dealership for a bigger car for my new born baby, and they told me my car was titled as salvage. The paper work said is a clean title, and the Texas title is clean too, but I found out it is salvage in New Mexico. So I went to the dealership and informed them, they said thecar was clean and that the dealership they bought it from (Shamaley) sold it as clean title too. So after three months of waiting for an answer they tell me all I can do is return the car and get another one. The car I have is going to be evaluated as a rental and see how much i should of payed. Is that fair? Also they told me that if I sued them I was going to lose.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. When you signed to buy the car they made you execute a lot of documents. Some of those may affect your rights going forward. Regardless, you should make them put their offer in writing so it can be evaluated by an attorney. As for litigation, half the folks in all litigation win and half lose. For them to know you are going to lose is total BS and a scare tactic. It may be wise to find a local consumer protection attorney for these issues.

    Find someone qualified here:

  2. Title fraud cases are based primarly on the title history the car, and all of the other documents filed with the DMV in the various states. In order to evaluate the strength of your case, an complete title history is needed, not just a Carfax. You or an attorney can request these documents from the DMV in each state where the car has been titled. They DMV charges a fee for these records, and you can request them using the forms that the DMV provides.

    You should consult with a consumer advocate attorney in your area that is familiar with auto fraud.

    Mr. Kaufman is correct, as always... by definition 50% of the people in a lawsuit lose, by definition. But the probabilty of you winning or losing a particular case needs to be evaluated by an attorney to see how strong your claim is agains the dealer. The title history will be the first step in that direction.

    I am an attorney who is only licensed in the State of Florida. My answer is general legal advice based upon what I perceive your question to be, and should not be relied upon because every person's facts and circumstances are unique, and because specific laws vary from state to state. To completely evaluate a legal issue requires reviewing and evaluating all relevant facts, applicable laws and other information. My answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, and offered for informational purposes only.

  3. 3 months is a long time to wait for an honest answer, let alone one that isn't. Car dealers rely on getting told by someone else just how good or great a used car is, so they can pass the lie forward and blame someone else instead of admitting what most of them already know before they even get the iron on their lot. I agree with the advice you were given by others already. What is going on here is what people in the used car sales business call "title washing." Title washing fraud can cost you big time money. Because state laws are different everywhere, some states require salvaged vehicles to have their title branded with words that describe what happened while other states may not require any brand at all or only certain brands that don’t cover everything. Then dishonest individuals or car dealers may buy a branded title car, usually at an auction, and then retitle it in a state that doesn’t require branding. Then they take the “washed” title, which now has no brand at all on it, and sell the car somewhere else. In fact, sometimes the car itself is never moved and it is the title that does the traveling. It is safe to say that none of it is an accident. The truth about the salvaged car may not be discovered until several sales later, if at all. Look for the last owner who had the branded title and that is often the one who is washing the title. If they did it to commit fraud (why else would they?), then in many states an injured consumer who buys the vehicle later may be able to sue the party responsible for the title washing. Every state has a “Udap” law although each one is a little different too. These laws are intended to make it illegal for a merchant or business (which would include a title washing person or dealer) to do anything that is unfair or deceptive or unconscionable to a consumer in a consumer transaction. Some of these laws, such as the Ohio version, also have a “price gouging” prohibition too, which makes it illegal to charge a price for something that is substantially in excess of what that type of product or service is being sold for elsewhere. A car with a branded title isn’t worth as much as a true clean title car. The remedies for a violation also are different from state to state but they usually let the consumer decide if they want to cancel the transaction or recover the amount of the over-charge, although some of these laws allow the consumer to recover several times the amount of their actual loss (Ohio is 3 times your damages). You really need to talk to a local Texsas Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case and can tell you how your law works. Luckily, Texas has several of them. You can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, You can also look for one here on Avvo under the Find a Lawyer tab. Or you can call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you. But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give a “Vote Up” review below. And be sure to indicate the best answer to your question so we can all be sure we are being helpful. Thanks for asking and Good Luck. Ron Burdge,,

    This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. If you need a Consumer Law attorney, click the link above to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.

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