Curbers

Curbers

A curber is someone who is posing as a person selling a vehicle privately, but is in the business of selling vehicles without a license. The word curber comes from the practice of parking vehicles on the side of the road/curb with a “For Sale” sign. Since curbers are unlicensed, fewer legal protections are in place than when purchasing a vehicle from a licensed dealer. 

Curbers often obtain poor-quality vehicles and sell them from parking lots. They tend to advertise through local newspapers and online ads and not disclose a vehicle's history to potential purchasers, often hiding serious accident damage or an altered odometer. Curbers may have the same phone number listed for multiple vehicles, often asking "which car?" when a potential purchaser calls. They may say they are selling vehicles for friends or have sad stories to tell. They often insist on meeting in parking lots and rush people into buying. The name on the vehicle documents will likely not match the ones on their drivers’ licenses. Curbers want cash and may ask purchasers to lie on the title transfer documents to save money. 

Curbers pose as a person selling a vehicle privately, often having bought salvaged vehicles from various sources. The curber cleans the vehicles, makes superficial repairs to the vehicles, and quickly turns the vehicles around for resale.

For information about curbers select from the options below.
 


How can I spot a curber?

Buying from a curber is risky, and you have fewer legal protections compared to buying from a licensed dealer. Keep an eye out for these warning signs:

  • Vehicle Registration: If the vehicle is not registered in the seller’s name or has only been registered to his/her name for a short period of time, they may be a curber.
  • Multiple listings: If you see multiple vehicles listed with the same phone number, no dealer license number or dealer name is contained in the listing, or the seller asks “which one” when you call about the ad, they may be a curber. 
  • Suspiciously low price: Curbers may entice purchasers in with “too good to be true,” below market prices. Be suspicious if you see a vehicle being sold for significantly cheaper than market rate. 
  • No Pre-Sale Inspection: Curbers will often refuse to allow a vehicle inspection by the purchaser’s mechanic. Be suspicious if the seller does not allow you to obtain a vehicle inspection.
  • Meeting away from their home: Curbers may insist on meeting at coffee shops or mall parking lots to show you the vehicle and finalize the sale.
  • High pressure and emotional sales tactics: Curbers may pressure you to close the sale quickly or use a sob story to distract the purchaser with guilt and sympathy. 
  • Cash sales only: Cash is hard to track and leaves no paper trail, so curbers may pressure you to pay with cash and may avoid providing a receipt or proof of purchase that includes their name and address. 
     

What is the difference between a private seller and a curber?

Individuals in Saskatchewan can sell their own private vehicle without obtaining a vehicle dealer license, but the problem arises when someone turns the sale of vehicles without a license into a business. If someone is in the business of reselling vehicles to make a profit, they are required to be licensed.
 

Check the vehicle identification number
Check the VIN number. The SGI VIN Search is a free service that reports the following:

  • the status of the vehicle (if it’s normal, rebuilt, stolen, unsafe etc.);
  • whether the vehicle’s registration has expired by reporting its most recent Saskatchewan registration expiry date;
  • its damage claims history in Saskatchewan since Nov. 1, 2002; and
  • whether the vehicle purchaser is required to pay Saskatchewan PST.

There are additional VIN search options, including the Cross Canada VIN Search, which costs a nominal fee. Learn more about conducting VIN searches or consult the SGI guide to buying safer vehicles.
 

Protections under the law

Licensed vehicle dealers are required by law to provide certain information about a vehicle history to a consumer before the vehicle can be sold.  This helps to ensure a consumer can make an informed decision.  

Licensed dealers must:

  • disclose the vehicle’s history 
  • ensure the vehicle meets the minimum safety requirements to be driven, unless expressly disclosed;
  • certify that the vehicle is free from liens, unless expressly disclosed;
  • use a contract that has been filed for use; 
  • be bonded; and
  • have a locatable address.
     

What if I bought from a curber and have a problem?

If you purchased a vehicle from an unlicensed dealer, the FCAA may not be able to assist you.  However, action may be taken to protect future purchasers. Follow the steps below to report a curber.

What can the FCAA do to stop and penalize curbers? 

The FCAA can prosecute and issue compliance orders and cost orders to curbers. 

Penalties for unlicensed selling 
The maximum penalties are up to $100,000 for a corporation and up to $5,000 or one year imprisonment for an individual for a first offence.

Help us catch curbers 
If you believe the person you purchased a vehicle from is operating as an unlicensed dealer or if you think you’ve spotted a curber, you can report them to us by email: consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca or by calling 887-880-5550.

Consumer Protection Division

Suite 500, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive

Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4H2

Tel: (306)787-5550

Toll free: (877)880-5550

Fax: (306)787-9779

Email: consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca

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