Car Title Washing Scams

What is Title Washing?

Dozens of car buyers fall victim to car title washing scam daily without even realizing it. To protect yourself from purchasing a car with a washed title, you should first understand what car title washing scam is.

A more formal definition of “title washing” states that it is a fraudulent act through which a vehicle’s title is altered with the aim of concealing significant information on the vehicle’s current condition that would have normally been included in the title. To put it simply, title washing is an illegal method of cleaning a branded title of a vehicle, i.e., flood title, salvage title, fire damaged, rebuilt, etc. CarFax, the vehicle history provider, assures that over 800,000 cars in the U.S have been “title washed” to conceal their troubled histories. Natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma resulted in approximately 570,000-600,000 flood-damaged vehicles.

How does Title Washing work?

When a vehicle is significantly damaged in a car accident or because of a natural disaster, such as a flood or hail storm, the insurance company writes off the damaged vehicle as a “total loss”. The process is referred to as vehicle title branding and suggests using a permanent designation on a vehicle’s title, registration or permit documents. Vehicle title branding is mandatory in most of the states when an insurer or vehicle owner writes off a vehicle as a “total loss”.

Title washing is used to let car dealers and individuals remove the vehicle title branding from car titles to minimize their losses. This is done by transferring the damaged vehicle to another state that does not recognize the brand. When it is transferred, the vehicle’s history will have been “washed” clean. After the branding is washed up, the car’s value increases significantly, and it becomes much easier to sell the car.

Title washing scam occurs when a car dealer or individual seller intentionally does not accurately reflect the branded history of the vehicle. Unfortunately, consumers unwittingly buy a vehicle that appears to be in good condition but was previously damaged severely. Purchasing a title-washed car risks the safety of the car buyers and their surrounding people. To avoid finding yourself with a title-washed car, consumers should make award choices.

Do you suspect you were sold a car in fraudulent circumstances? Or maybe after several weeks of driving you discover major vehicle damage that intentionally was not unveiled to you at the time of the sale? The experienced and knowledgeable auto dealer fraud attorneys at the Margarian Law firm have a wide range of successful experience dealing with auto fraud cases. We are ready to make all our knowledge and experience work for you and get the best possible outcome of your case.  


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