Picture it, you’re driving home right after buying your “new” used car and you’re absolutely giddy because you can’t believe you got such a great deal. The price was better than right, the seller was a really nice person, the car passed the mechanic’s inspection with flying colors, and now you’re out for your first cruise alone. Having just paid cash, you don’t have a care in the world.
Suddenly, your rear-view mirrors explode in an orgy of red and blue flashing lights.
Pulling over, you’re startled to hear the police officer’s voice over the loudspeaker, commanding you to get out of the car immediately—with your hands up.
Having done so, you’re absolutely stunned when the officer comes up and informs you your “new” car has been reported stolen and you’re about to be placed under arrest for grand theft auto. Shocked, you stammer it isn’t true, you just bought the car. But when the officer asks you to show either registration or proof of purchase you have nothing to show because you didn’t bother to transfer title right away.
So you call the number that’s worked every time you’ve tried to reach the seller before now, in an effort to get the seller to come down and vouch for your story to the police. There’s no answer. Suddenly, you realize that in addition to having been scammed out of your cash, you have no way to prove you shouldn’t be in jail.
Or conversely, let’s say you’re the seller, on the other side of the transaction.
You’re relaxing peacefully in your home, having just sold your car. Scanning the Internet, you’re reading the specs again of the terrific new home theater system and the 3D TV you’ve had your eye on which, you’re now going to buy with a portion of the proceeds from the sale.
Your phone rings. The caller is from the local police department asking you to come downtown and identify your car. It was just involved in a fatal accident, the driver was of your car was killed, and while the people in the other car survived, they have significant injuries. You were found through the registration papers in the car and the police department now needs your insurance information to make sure the injured parties are taken care of.
Dumbstruck, you tell the caller you sold the car, and are no longer responsible for anything that happens with it. They apologize for the inconvenience and tell you you’ll immediately be relieved of all responsibility—if you’ll just come down and show proof the car was sold.
But you can’t.
You relied on the buyer to go to the DMV to register the car in their name and now you’re on the hook for the cost of the accident.
It isn’t at all.