Curber facts

The VSA and Curbers

What is a curber?

A curber is someone who pretends to be selling a vehicle privately, but is in the business of selling vehicles without a licence. Since they are not licensed, a buyer gets none of the legal protections that come with buying from a motor dealer licensed by the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC (VSA).

A curber may not be reporting their income to the Canadian Revenue Agency or be paying provincial taxes. They may be breaking local bylaws with their unlicensed sales activity. They may expose the buyer to legal liability by underreporting the price paid.

What protections do you lose if you buy from a curber?

  • A curber does not have to certify that the vehicle meets the minimum safety requirements to be driven
  • A curber does not have to certify that the vehicle is free of liens. A lien is a claim against the title of the vehicle by another person or business, like a bank or a mechanic
  • A curber does not have to tell you the history and condition of the vehicle. The vehicle could have been rebuilt after a major accident or have an incorrect odometer.

How do I know if I’m dealing with a curber?

  • You find more than one vehicle listed with the same phone number, and a dealer licence number is not shown
  • The seller says, “Which one?” when you call about the ad
  • The seller doesn’t have the original registration form
  • The name on the registration is not their name, so they’ll say they are selling the vehicle for a friend or family member
  • The vehicle year, make, model, body style or colour doesn’t match the description on the vehicle’s registration form
  •  The vehicle doesn’t match the description given when the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is decoded
  • Curbers usually insist on meeting at a parking lot or mall, or bringing the vehicle to you, never at their home
  • The seller insists on cash and says they’re in a rush to make a sale

What if I bought from a curber and have a problem?

To find out if the VSA can help you, use the VSA public search available at this link – https://publicregistry.mvsabc.com – to see if your seller is indeed a curber, or is licensed to participate in consumer transactions.

Scenario one: If you find out that your seller is licensed for consumer transactions as a dealer, a salesperson or broker agent, use a Consumer Complaint Form available at this link to start formal dispute resolution of your problem.

Scenario two: If the person or business you purchased from is not showing as a dealer, salesperson or broker agent in the search results, it means they are not licensed for consumer transactions. Unfortunately, unless the curber is affiliated with a licensed dealer in some way, the VSA will not be able to help you to resolve your dispute with the curber.

However, we request that you complete the Report a Curber Form available at this link to notify the VSA of unlicensed activities by your seller. That information will help the VSA in our investigative and licensing actions and will help protect future buyers.

What can the VSA do to stop curbers?

The VSA can issue compliance orders and administrative penalties to curbers and other unlicensed sellers.

Penalties for unlicensed selling

The maximum penalties are $100,000 for a business and $50,000 for an individual. 

Who needs to be licensed as a dealer?

A motor dealer is anyone in the business of:
(a) selling motor vehicles;
(b) offering vehicles for sale;
(c) advertising, promoting or soliciting vehicles for sale

Selling a personal vehicle driven for a reasonable length of time by the seller is not being in business.

A person buying even one vehicle for resale or selling a vehicle for another is acting as a motor dealer. A licence is required.

If you have any questions, please contact VSA Consumer Services.

NOTE: This is to provide general information and is not intended to be legal advice.