Automotive

Weird Lien Situation

  • Last Updated:
  • May 29th, 2021 3:58 pm
[OP]
Newbie
May 26, 2021
1 posts

Weird Lien Situation

So, I bought a new ATV - almost brand new - a 2020 model. In Halifax, NS (no lien check required to sell a used vehicle - up to the buyer).

I did my homework. Asked the seller for the VIN to run a lien check. He showed me the registration paper / title from Access NS that had the VIN number on it. I took a pic of the title (in his name) and ran the lien check. Came back clean. Seller said he isn't surprised because he went to the bank and "paid it off" already.

I go ahead, negotiate a price and buy the four wheeler. I call my insurance co to get it insured and they tell me the VIN is not valid, so I go and look on the bike and the vin on the registration paper / ownership is missing a single character. Likely a typo at Access NS (how their systems even allow that to happen is beyond me - do they manually type VIN's on to those forms?).

Being suspicious, I run the corrected VIN through lien search and bang, TD Auto Finance has a lien on the bike.

I contacted the seller, he said he "paid it off" at the bank and will get me a letter the next day. Fast forward two weeks and its excuse after excuse. Now he is in the hospital apparently. I thought ok, maybe they just didn't deregister the lien - so I searched it again and nope, still a lien registered to him on the bike.

What do I do now? I feel like I exercised due diligence - EXCEPT not checking to make sure the VIN on the ownership paper he had matched the VIN on the actual vehicle. How many people actually do that? The form had the guys name, the year and model of the vehicle, it all checked out. I didn't even check to make sure the VIN matched. What also pisses me off is that the VIN search website in NS for liens even says it searched "similar" vin's incase there is an error. Well in my case, there was an error - and it still said no liens found.

I am afraid to even use the bike because if anything happens to it, or it gets stolen, insurance will pay the lien first and then I am out the value of the bike. It's just a really weird situation. I am trying to be nice to the guy with the hopes that my skepticism is unfounded and he really has paid it off. I also don't want to call the bank and be like "hey, did this guy pay of his loan? Oh, no? well... ummmmm. don't come to my house and repossess it please."

Sigh. Help?
7 replies
Member
Apr 27, 2009
262 posts
87 upvotes
West Vancouver
Have you talked with access NS to find out how you get the correct VIN on the title.

Did you get a bill of sale or anything from the seller with the correct VIN?
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2013
1065 posts
1344 upvotes
Calgary
Sounds like your screwed.Nothing else you can do except try to get a the release letter or money back from the seller. Either way if there’s still an active lien, the bank will need to get paid one way or another ....

Btw, I always check the vin on the vehicles I buy. It’s usually stamped in many places and is a good way to confirm if it’s all original or repaired if the vin numbers don’t match.
Sr. Member
May 2, 2017
906 posts
1204 upvotes
KevioCoolJay wrote: So, I bought a new ATV - almost brand new - a 2020 model. In Halifax, NS (no lien check required to sell a used vehicle - up to the buyer).

I did my homework. Asked the seller for the VIN to run a lien check. He showed me the registration paper / title from Access NS that had the VIN number on it. I took a pic of the title (in his name) and ran the lien check. Came back clean. Seller said he isn't surprised because he went to the bank and "paid it off" already.

I go ahead, negotiate a price and buy the four wheeler. I call my insurance co to get it insured and they tell me the VIN is not valid, so I go and look on the bike and the vin on the registration paper / ownership is missing a single character. Likely a typo at Access NS (how their systems even allow that to happen is beyond me - do they manually type VIN's on to those forms?).

Being suspicious, I run the corrected VIN through lien search and bang, TD Auto Finance has a lien on the bike.

I contacted the seller, he said he "paid it off" at the bank and will get me a letter the next day. Fast forward two weeks and its excuse after excuse. Now he is in the hospital apparently. I thought ok, maybe they just didn't deregister the lien - so I searched it again and nope, still a lien registered to him on the bike.

What do I do now? I feel like I exercised due diligence - EXCEPT not checking to make sure the VIN on the ownership paper he had matched the VIN on the actual vehicle. How many people actually do that? The form had the guys name, the year and model of the vehicle, it all checked out. I didn't even check to make sure the VIN matched. What also pisses me off is that the VIN search website in NS for liens even says it searched "similar" vin's incase there is an error. Well in my case, there was an error - and it still said no liens found.

I am afraid to even use the bike because if anything happens to it, or it gets stolen, insurance will pay the lien first and then I am out the value of the bike. It's just a really weird situation. I am trying to be nice to the guy with the hopes that my skepticism is unfounded and he really has paid it off. I also don't want to call the bank and be like "hey, did this guy pay of his loan? Oh, no? well... ummmmm. don't come to my house and repossess it please."

Sigh. Help?
Liens do take some time to go out of the system. I'd call TD bank and confirm if they still have a lien on it, or if the loan was paid off as the seller said.

If it does in fact have a lien on it, you could pretty easily take the seller to small claims court for the amount of the lien. He misrepresented what he was selling you by stating it had no lien, so he'd most certainly lose (you did your due diligence based on what was given to you).
Deal Fanatic
May 22, 2003
7130 posts
4029 upvotes
Vancouver
TheTall wrote: Liens do take some time to go out of the system. I'd call TD bank and confirm if they still have a lien on it, or if the loan was paid off as the seller said.

If it does in fact have a lien on it, you could pretty easily take the seller to small claims court for the amount of the lien. He misrepresented what he was selling you by stating it had no lien, so he'd most certainly lose (you did your due diligence based on what was given to you).
Right, but if he was willing to lie about the lien, I would imagine it would be a PITA to try to collect the judgement
Member
User avatar
Jun 11, 2019
233 posts
215 upvotes
North York, Toronto
notenoughsleep wrote: Right, but if he was willing to lie about the lien, I would imagine it would be a PITA to try to collect the judgement
Garnished wages.
Sr. Member
May 2, 2017
906 posts
1204 upvotes
notenoughsleep wrote: Right, but if he was willing to lie about the lien, I would imagine it would be a PITA to try to collect the judgement
Not sure you have any options here. You need to know if there's still a lien on it - if there's not, like the guy said, you're in the clear and can sleep well at night.

If he lied to you and didn't pay off the loan, and the bank has a lien on it, then you are going to have to get it resolved. I'd certainly start by calling the guy up and threatening him with legal action unless he clears the lien, and if you don't get anywhere with that, take him to small claims court. You'd be able to claim the lien amount plus an additional amount for any time you had to spend getting this stuff resolved.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 9, 2012
4727 posts
3953 upvotes
Oakville, ON
What was the date when he told you it was paid off? And what date did you pull the new search on with the corrected VIN?

There is usually a lag of 2 or 3 weeks for the lien clearance process to run it’s course. Can be quicker or can even take a bit longer. So depending on the timeline above it may be within the scope of a legit timing delay before it shows as cleared. You should try to check again in the next few days.

In the meantime, call the bank listed as having the lien. You don’t need to tell them the whole story - just call up and tell them you want to check if a lien is still valid and then give them the details of the VIN and the registration number/date of the lien. They’ll either confirm that they no longer have an interest (best case) or they’ll confirm that they still have an interest (worst case).

Unfortunately, there’s a fair chance that the seller heard the lien didn’t show up and decided not to pay off the lien - or - the seller knew of the VIN error all along and knew that the lien wouldn’t show up and scammed you. Between scammers being scammers or a good person in a financial squeeze due to COVID you may be left holding the bag on this.

This is why it’s important to call the bank ASAP to confirm the lien status. Any hope you have of pressuring the seller into doing the right thing is to jump on it right away while there’s still a chance that some or all of the money is still available. The longer you take the harder it’s going to be to collect anything….

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