Car Title Problems?

Problems with car titles? Who can help?

I ordinarily write about problems that I can help ‘fix’. Maybe this time, the question is whether I can prevent a problem from surfacing for those who read this.

Sometimes people are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to drive a vehicle. If you are ineligible for a license, you may not be eligible to transfer title to a vehicle to your name, though. Some have decided to buy a vehicle and have it registered in the name of a relative or friend who does have a drivers license, and when they do this, they are basically making a gift to their relative or friend. If you drive without a license, you can get a ticket. If you drive without insurance, you can get cited for that violation, also. Additionally, the friend may be charged with allowing an unlicensed person to drive their vehicle, which can have consequences in court with fines, as well as insurance consequences, and in certain circumstances could subject the vehicle to forfeiture. And if you were to have an accident, the registered owner’s insurance can come back against you for damages caused by your negligence.

But what if you have second thoughts about having spent $13,000 on that 2012 Honda Civic, and want it ‘back’? Did you realize that the friend in whose name you placed it now “OWNS” it, legally? So if you take the vehicle after the friend demands its return, you may be charged with some level of car theft, unauthorized use, or fraud. Not a desirable outcome.

About on a weekly basis, I have a client come to complain that he wants his car, and the person who is “holding title” to it will not give it back or transfer title. There is the legal problem of “registered owner”. Then there is the argument that the client made an investment of the car, has used the car exclusively for a couple years, and wants it placed in his own name, as the ‘equitable owner’ of the vehicle. Sounds reasonable? Perhaps. But if you are seeking an equitable remedy like this, you must have what the Court would call “clean hands” in the matter. That may be very hard to prove.

Prevention is usually the best defense, before you find yourself—and your friend—in trouble.  Breaking the law is not worth the risk.

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Buyer Beware

If you are considering whether to rent-to-own a consumer product, think about the costs of making what appears initially to be small weekly payments, and whether the offer meets your family budget, or is a good deal for you.  Take a calculator with you and read the rental agreement carefully.  Even at national name-brand stores, you may discover that a modest TV that you could buy at Walmart for $300 could cost you four times that amount by renting to own over an 18 month period.  Some interest rates on these rent-to-own agreements are over 200 percent!

Does the contract forgive a missed payment or allow you a grace period to make it up?  Or does it allow for repossession with no credit for any payments already made?  Are the consumer goods ‘new’?  or are they ‘used’?  Quite a few consumers feel ripped off, simply because they did not realize the impact of those low weekly payments over time, or the huge amounts that they’d pay for rent-to-own, over traditional purchases.

The NC Attorney General’s Office suggests that before you decide to rent-to-own, ask yourself the following questions:

Is being able to return the item after using it worth paying more than double in rent what it would cost to purchase the item?

How does the cost and terms of renting-to-own compare to other payment options, like layaway or installment payments?

How does the amount you’ll pay weekly compare to the total cost of the item?

How long must you make payments before you own the item?

How much would you pay for the same item if you bought it someplace else?

Is the item new or used?

If you have a complaint about a rent-to-own contract, contact the AG’s office for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

Consumers Beware of “Rent-to-Own”

Rent-to-own scams

RENT-TO-OWN

When considering whether to rent-to-own a consumer product, think about the costs of making what appears initially to be small weekly payments. Read the rental agreement carefully, and you will see that a TV with a retail price of between $250 and $300 has payments of under $20 per week with no credit check, but that over the year and a half you make those payments, the total sales price can amount to four or five times the retail price of he same TV you could buy, simply be saving the same money for 4 months or less! Some interest rates on these rent-to-own agreements are over 200 percent!

And according to the rental agreements, a missed payment results in the store being able to repossess the goods, leaving you with no TV, and no credit toward the payments you’ve already made, even if you were close to paying it off before the missed payment.

Last week, I heard from a consumer who had bought a used washer and dryer on a rent to own contract where the total payments were $2,932. The same used washer and dryer could have been bought at Goodwill or the Habitat Store for about $200 without high interest rates for weekly payments.

The NC Attorney General’s Office suggests that before you decide to rent-to-own, ask yourself the following questions:

Is being able to return the item after using it worth paying more than double in rent what it would cost to purchase the item?

How does the cost and terms of renting-to-own compare to other payment options, like layaway or installment payments?

How does the amount you’ll pay weekly compare to the total cost of the item?

How long must you make payments before you own the item?

How much would you pay for the same item if you bought it someplace else?

Is the item new or used?

If you have a complaint about a rent-to-own contract, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

¡Cuídate cuando vende un carro!

¿Cuantas veces vendió un carro usado? Típicamente, ha firmado un recibo (“Bill of Sale”), y el título frente un notario público, aceptó el pago, quitó la placa, y llamó la compañía de seguro para remover el carro de su aseguranza. Y no eschuchó nada más.

Pero Usted no sabe si el comprador llevó el título a DMV para conseguir el nuevo título. Y desde cumplirlo, el carro está en su própio nombre. Es importante, especialmente si el comprador decide no aplicar por el nuevo tíulo (tal vez porque no tiene la buena licencia), y si él tiene un accidente. Usted puede ser responsable por su negligéncia, porque el título no cambio nombres de dueño. Con o sin aseguranza, sería un gran problema para Usted.

Existe algunas maneras de evitar este problema. Una es, si vende el carro a un ‘dealer’ autorizado por el estado que debe que seguir las leyes. Otra manera es hacer como yo hice. Cuando están listos cambiar título, reunirse en la oficina de placas del DMV, para segurar que el comprador cumpla su solicitud del nuevo título, y deja un empleado de DMV sellar el título como notario público, y quita la vieja placa a ellos para conseguir un recibo escrito, tambien.

Usted debe que protegerse contra los fraudes de otras personas, y no ser responsable por la negligéncia de otras personas. ¡El futuro económico de su familia no se vale los riesgos!

Jeff Morris es abogado en Salisbury, al número 704-647-0808.

Seller Beware!

How many times have you sold a used car to someone?  Typically, you’ve probably signed a bill of sale and the title in the presence of a notary public, and exchange funds; surrendered the tag and taken the vehicle off your insurance policy.

But how do you know that the buyer turned it in and applied for new title at the tag office?  That matters, particularly if the new buyer decides to drive the car, which is still in your name until re-titled, and is involved in an accident in “your” car!  You could be held responsible for losses, whether insured or not.

There are a couple ways to avoid this scenario.  One is if you are selling to a licensed dealer who follows the law.  Another is what I recently did.  You meet the buyer of your used vehicle at the tag office, and make sure the new title application is done at the same time you surrender the old tag.

Protect yourself from the potential liabilities of others, to assure that you and your family’s financial future is not unnecessarily put at risk.