Imagine getting a $1,000 towing bill for a car you did not own? A south Sound man discovered there’s an easy way for anyone to put a car in your name, ditch it, and leave you holding the bag for towing and storage costs.
Kaleb Inwards had no idea he had bought a car. He only knew when the towing company wanted its money.
“It’s a lot easier to prove you own something than that you don’t own something,” said Inwards.
Kaleb owes a $1,400 towing bill all because of the Washington State Sellers Report of Sale. According to Brad Benfield from the Department of Licensing, it’s a form that sellers complete with the buyers information.
“That protects them from anything that can happen like an impound or an accident that happens if that buyer doesn’t transfer it into their name,” explained Benfield.
In this case, a man named Loui Carvahlo listed Kaleb as the buyer of his 1991 Nissan. However, Kaleb never bought the car. But when it was found abandoned on the side of the road, the towing company came after Kaleb for the bill simply because his name was on the report.
“At that point I contacted the towing company to see if they could just sort it out but they said that they had followed the law which was to get the last sellers report of the car in question and that it had Kaleb’s name listed as the buyer and so that’s all that they had to do, there was nothing else they could do at that point,” explained Inwards’ mother, Robyn Jensen.
Benfield said the only way you can stop the charges is to go to court. The bottom line is anyone can put someone else’s name on a sellers report. And no identification is needed to complete the sale. Jensen believes that’s a law that must change.
“There should be some kind of verification. Instead of doing it online that it would have to be done in person and that the document would have to have the buyer’s signature,” said Jensen.
Kaleb took his case to court and won and we helped him get the collections removed from his credit. So Kaleb won’t have to pay, but a gap in the law remains open for anyone to exploit.
The department of licensing says to put someone else’s name other than the buyer on a car is fraud. State Rep. Mark Harmsworth from Mill Creek says he’s in the process of drafting legislation to plug the holes with sellers reports. As for the guy who says he sold the car to Kaleb, he told us he’s not sure who bought the car.
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