Are you in the market for a new or used car? It pays to do your research not only on the specific vehicle you’re looking at but also on the dealership.
Taking the time to become an educated consumer could help you spot signs of automotive dealer fraud, saving you from the stress and frustrations of being defrauded.
Auto dealer fraud occurs when car dealers use deceptive practices to sell a vehicle under false pretenses. There are many ways in which auto dealer fraud – also referred to as auto fraud – can happen to you during the car-buying process.
A bait and switch happens when an auto dealer advertises a car just to lure customers in to their dealership. But the customer’s dreams are shattered when they get to the dealership only to learn the price is higher than advertised. This scheme isn’t the only type of bait and switch, though. In another type of bait and switch, an ad lures a potential buyer to a dealership. Upon arriving at the dealership, the customer learns the car has already sold.
The salesperson then uses aggressive methods to try selling the customer a more expensive car.
A car dealership that inflates the invoice price of any vehicle has committed auto dealer fraud. How does this type of fraud happen?
One example would be if a salesperson tried to charge a customer for any options that come standard on the car you want to buy.
One example of odometer fraud involves resetting or rolling back the odometer on a vehicle. Fraudulent auto dealers do this to make a potential buyer believe a car has fewer miles on it. After all, a potential car buyer might not be willing to pay the asking price for one with 100,00 miles on it. That buyer may end up buying the same vehicle at the asking price if they are led to believe that the car has only 10,000 miles.
But the scam starts before the car is even put up for sale. To sell the lie, auto dealers will remove visible traces of wear in a process called “detailing”. According to The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), odometer fraud costs consumers anywhere from $4 to $10 million dollars every year.
If you suspect you or someone you love has been taken advantage of by a fraudulent auto dealer, you are entitled to recover. Punishment for convicted fraudulent auto dealers can be civil or criminal – or both. In order to find out more about your rights and options for recover, it may be good to speak with an attorney experienced in dealing with automotive dealer fraud.
Don’t call on the phone. Instead, make sure all communication is in writing. Explain what happened. Suggest the solution or remedy you are proposing as the solution. Give the dealership a chance to make it right. This required contact can be made in writing by either you or your lawyer.
Check your state laws before moving forward with a lawsuit. In some states, the buyer must allow the dealership to fix the problem before filing a lawsuit.
Some states have a specific agency that investigates complaints of automotive dealership fraud and monitor auto dealerships. Once you have filed your complaint, the agency will investigate to determine if the dealership acted fraudulently. The agency can order the dealership to fix the situation or take away their license to sell cars in the state.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified auto dealer fraud lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local auto dealer fraud attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
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