Flood-damaged vehicles are increasingly being resold by unscrupulous sellers.
 - Photo via FEMA.

Flood-damaged vehicles are increasingly being resold by unscrupulous sellers.

Photo via FEMA.

Several thousand vehicles that were flooded and damaged during tropical storm Barry may reappear for sale across the country in the coming months, warns the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Commercial fleets should be vigilant and not rush to purchase a used vehicle, particularly if the price is extremely appealing.

On July 13 and 14, Barry drenched Louisiana and Mississippi with torrential rains causing rivers to rise and dangerous flash floods.

While there is no way to know for certain how many vehicles were flooded due to Barry, the NICB says that these kinds of natural disasters can cause criminals to take advantage of buyers with the resale of flooded vehicles.

Specifically, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.

After a disaster, NICB works with its member companies, law enforcement, and auto auction companies to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed. Most are sold to parts companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.

The vehicle identification number of vehicles that have been damaged by Barry will be searchable through NICB's free VINCheck service as well as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database.

To protect against inadvertently purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle, potential buyers should have vehicles checked by a reliable technician or repair facility, notes NICB.

Finally, the NICB encourages using common sense tactics such as looking for water stains, mildew or sand under the carpet, floor mats and dashboard, checking for fog inside the headlights and taillights, and sniffing out the vehicle for aromas associated with intense cleaners and disinfectants.

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