Consumer Alert: Beware of curbstoning at tax time!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Many Memphians rely on their tax refund to buy a used car.

"You see that car and it looks good and the price is good and you've got this influx of money from your tax return," says Nancy Crawford of the Better Business Bureau.

Except the deal you're about to make, could cost more in the long run.

Crawford says the BBB gets lots of calls about what's called 'curbstoning' this time of year.

"Curbstoning is when a less than ethical dealer will park a car on the side of the road with a for sale sign and not identify that it belongs to a dealer."

These are sellers who fly under the radar, selling vehicles they pretend to simply own.

Crawford explained, "Anybody who sells more than five vehicles a year is considered to be a dealer and has to be licensed by the state."

So, no license means no oversight, and no recourse for consumers who get a bad deal.

Complaints about curbstoning typically peak at tax time.

The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs issued a warning this week.

Anytime you're buying a used car, check for the dealer's license, get an independent mechanic to put it up on a lift for a thorough inspection and don't rush into the purchase.

More Car Buying Tips

Get Vehicle History

Crawford says if you're searching online, a red flag for curbstoning is the phone number.

"See if you see the same phone number used over and over again because that will indicate the same person is selling that vehicle."

If you think you've been a victim of curbstoning, contact the State Motor Vehicle Commission at 615-741-2711.

Consumers can also use this link to file a complaint.