In late May, a robbery occurred at an Authorized Third Party motor vehicle service business in Phoenix.
The suspect in the robbery incident took 1,300 blank vehicle titles.
The Arizona Department of Transportation notes that blank titles provide many opportunities for criminals to commit fraud.
Blank titles can be used to retitle stolen vehicles, salvaged vehicles and vehicles deemed totaled by crashes. In additional, they can also be used to skip vehicle inspections when one is required.
“Title fraud is a common way to cheat buyers out of their hard-earned money,” said Michael Lockhart, chief of ADOT’s Office of Inspector General.
The Office of Inspector General maintains a list of serial numbers of stolen titles that is regularly shared with law enforcement agencies, MVD offices, Authorized Third Party businesses and other entities.
ADOT recommends conducting the transaction at an MVD office or Authorized Third Party business where they check the vehicle identification number (VIN) and check the record for liens and other notations that may not be on the title.
Here are some tips from ADOT on how you can avoid being a victim:
- Use good judgment and ask lots of questions
- Ask for identification to make sure the seller is the owner listed on the title
- Ask to see vehicle maintenance records
- Check the VIN on the inside of the driver’s door frame and on the top of the dashboard to make sure they match
- Check for VIN tampering such as the door frame sticker peeled off and replaced, and altered rivets on the dashboard plaque
If the seller is acting suspicious, unwilling to show ID or records or trying to rush the process, walk away.
ADOT is here to help victims of fraud involving vehicle titles, registrations and driver licenses. Victims can call the 24-hour fraud hotline at (877)712-2370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The robbery case currently remains under investigation.