Buying a new or used car can be exciting. A vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you will make, and it is one that you take seriously. You work hard for your money, so you want to make sure you purchase a vehicle that is going to run properly and last a long time. Unfortunately, not all car dealerships are trustworthy. Sometimes, an unscrupulous dealership uses fraudulent practices to trick consumers. When this happens, you could be an auto fraud victim. You need to know about some of these illegal practices and understand when you have been victimized.
Types of Auto Fraud
There are various types of auto fraud. Illegal practices can occur at any point during the sales process. When you step onto a car dealer lot, you want to trust that the employees are trustworthy. You need to keep in mind that dealers can use many ways to gain your trust and may be able to take advantage of a buyer rather easily. Remember that they are in business to make money. Be on the lookout for some of these illegal practices.
Fraudulent Pricing Practices
You may have heard the term “bait and switch.” It applies to most types of retail sales, including car sales. A bait and switch happens when the dealer advertises a car at a specific price, often online. When you visit the dealer to see or test drive the vehicle, you might find out the price is different or didn’t include all the fees and extra costs involved.
Sometimes, the car is no longer available, and the salesperson may try to sell you a different vehicle, often at a higher price point. The dealer may show you various other vehicles and use high-pressure techniques to try to persuade you to buy a different car.
Bait and switch tactics are illegal. If you encounter these types of issues, it is best to leave the dealership. You should contact the Better Business Bureau to report the unscrupulous practices. When you shop for a vehicle online, print out the advertisement for your records. If you realize that the dealership took advantage of you, contact an experienced auto fraud attorney. Your lawyer will assist you in seeking a resolution for the damages you suffered as a result of dealer fraud.
When you purchase a vehicle, you want to make sure that the condition is what you expect. The pricing of a vehicle is dependent on a variety of factors, such as the age of the vehicle, the number of miles it has, and the overall condition, among other things. If the dealer misrepresents the condition of the vehicle it is a form of fraud.
The dealer has a legal obligation to provide truthful facts about the car before you make a purchase. They must disclose the correct odometer reading and need to tell you if the vehicle has had major repairs. You can help to protect yourself against these issues by obtaining a vehicle report. The report will provide you with the age of the vehicle, the number of miles reported, and whether the vehicle was involved in prior accidents.
You should get a clear title to the used vehicle. This means that the vehicle does not belong to someone else, and there is no lien on it. Importantly, you need to verify that the vehicle is not salvaged or rebuilt. A salvaged vehicle means that the vehicle has been declared as a loss, often because it was severely damaged in an accident. If that is the case, the vehicle is worth significantly less than a comparable vehicle without a salvaged title.
Auto financing can be complex and difficult to understand. You will have to sign a document with multiple pages that include all kinds of legal and technical information. Unfortunately, a dealership may take advantage of your inexperience. In some cases, the dealer might tell you that your credit score qualifies only for a high-interest loan when this is not true. If the dealer tells you that your credit is lower than it is, that may be considered fraud. To prevent financing fraud, review your credit score before you go to the dealership. Read and verify the terms of the contract before you sign the document.
Am I an Auto Fraud Victim?
You may not realize that you are a victim of auto fraud until you are already home with your vehicle. Once you review all the documentation and start driving your car, you might identify issues. Unfortunately, many people are victims of auto fraud and do not know it. Make sure you receive a complete copy of all your paperwork. Make notes about your transactions and discussions.
Remember that you have a written contract, and if the dealer told you something verbally, it is not official unless it is in the contract. Get information about the vehicle before you purchase it. For instance, if you are buying a used car, make sure you obtain a report on the VIN number before you agree to the purchase.
What to Do if You Suspect You are the Victim of Auto Fraud
As a consumer, you have rights. If you are the victim of auto fraud, you can and should do something about the issue. Lemon laws and other legislation are in place to protect consumers against auto fraud. It is best to take action as soon as you notice a problem. The sooner you act, the easier it will be to gather the evidence you need to prove fraud.
Gather all the information you have regarding the issues and talk to an auto fraud attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you take action, the better because you want to make sure that dealership documentation is available. Your lawyer will work on your behalf to investigate the situation, gather evidence, and negotiate a favorable result. In some cases, the matter will have to get resolved in court.
Learn to recognize fraud and how to avoid becoming a victim. We’re on your side to provide the information you need and the protection you deserve. Contact us today at The Bayas Firm at (720) 619-3522 to discuss your case.