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October 30, 2006
Contact: Doug Dunbar

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Warns Online Vehicle Buyers
To Be Fully Informed and to Obtain All Needed Documentation

AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap cautioned the buyers of vehicles through online auction and sale websites to be fully informed when making a purchase, and to be sure all title and registration documents needed in Maine are obtained at the time of purchase.

Secretary Dunlap explained that as the popularity of online auctions and sales have expanded the Office of Investigation within the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has dealt with an increased number of cases in which the seller of a vehicle does not have the necessary documents, and the buyer is left with a vehicle that can not be legally registered and driven in Maine.

Dunlap noted that an investigator at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles recently attempted to assist a Maine resident when the seller of a vehicle became uncooperative. In the words of the buyer, he was left with “an expensive planter" in his driveway.

“The message is clear---buyer beware. Although the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is ready and willing to assist consumers, Maine law can not be enforced against the residents of another state or country. Before purchasing a vehicle online, the consumer should make sure all titling and registration documents are available,” Dunlap commented.

Dunlap indicated that in addition to providing a means to sell vehicles that lack the required paperwork, the internet has become a conduit for disposing stolen vehicles, as was discovered by a South Portland businessman recently who purchased an expensive SUV online, only to have it identified as a vehicle with an altered VIN that had been stolen from a new car dealer's lot in Pennsylvania.

Dunlap reminded consumers that purchasing vehicles from licensed dealers in Maine carries the protection of warranties and bonding that ensure a title will be issued, and bonding to ensure the mileage is accurate as stated.