Steering Clear of Title Jumping: A Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide

November 10, 2023
Preventing Title Jumping

Steering Clear of Title Jumping: A Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide

Title jumping in the world of car sales is like skipping steps in a recipe – it might seem quicker, but the results can be disastrous. Often an illegal move, title jumping happens when a vehicle’s seller doesn’t register the car in their name before selling it. Here’s your guide to understanding and preventing title jumping.

1. What is Title Jumping?

Title jumping, also known as a ‘floating title’, is the act of buying a vehicle and selling it without ever registering the vehicle in your name. In this scheme, when the car is sold, the title from the original owner is left blank. This may save the seller from paying sales tax, but it’s illegal and creates a nightmare of liability and paperwork issues.

2. The Risks of Title Jumping:

For buyers, purchasing a car from a jumper means you’re technically buying the vehicle from someone who never legally owned it. This opens a can of worms – from difficulty in registering the car to potential involvement in legal issues.

3. Identifying a Title Jumper:

Be wary of sellers who offer only a signed title from another person or a title that doesn’t match their ID. These are red flags. A legitimate seller should have a title in their name.

4. The Right Way to Transfer Ownership:

When buying a car, ensure the seller’s name is on the title and that it matches their identification. The title should be signed over to you during the sale. It’s your responsibility as the buyer to register the vehicle in your name as soon as possible.

5. For Sellers: Register Before You Sell:

If you’re selling a car, make sure to transfer the title into your name after purchasing it. Skipping this step to save on taxes or for convenience is illegal and can lead to serious legal trouble.

6. Reporting Suspicious Activity:

If you encounter a situation that looks like title jumping, report it to your local DMV. They can investigate and take action against fraudulent sellers.

7. Protect Yourself with Proper Documentation:

Always keep a paper trail. Whether buying or selling, proper documentation can protect you. Keep copies of the sale agreement, title transfer, and any communications.

Title jumping may seem like a shortcut, but it’s a dead end with legal consequences. Whether you’re buying or selling, doing it the right way keeps you in the clear and on the right side of the law.