In the aftermath of the terrible destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy
along the East coast, the Northeast and parts of the Midwest areas of the U.S., the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has issued a warning to everyone affected – and to everyone in the country – to beware of the potential for fraud. The warning includes vulnerable homeowners, businesses and, in particular, the resale of automobiles that are water damaged but could be sold to unsuspecting consumers throughout the country.
Vehicles that have been damaged by natural disasters, especially flooding, do not often have obvious signs of damage. So the extent of serious problems caused by salt or fresh water is far too often easier to conceal than body damage. After Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, hundreds of thousands of vehicles were damaged by flood waters. As a result, NICB established a free service called VINCheckSM to assist in determining if a particular vehicle has been reported stolen or reported as salvage due to damage, natural disaster or otherwise.
NICB will also be working with law enforcement to help ensure that Superstorm-damaged vehicles are entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The System is designed to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold. The States report data to the system which currently has about 20 million salvage or total loss records on file, or about 88% of vehicles in the U.S.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of vehicles have been damaged by Superstorm Sandy. No matter where you are located throughout the country, if you are in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, especially a luxury model for your limousine business, make sure you follow some used-car buying tips, provided free of charge by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its website. Do your homework, be aware of the special circumstances concerning a market that may have an abundance of storm-damaged vehicles and take advantage of the mostly free services the government is offering to help protect you from fraud.