Powerful Legal Advocacy

Spotting fraud when buying a new car

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Auto Dealer Fraud

The excitement of buying a new car often gets mixed with anxiety about making the right choice and getting a fair deal. Auto dealers, for the most part, operate reputable businesses. However, just like any industry, some individuals might engage in deceptive practices to boost their profits. The Department of Justice reports that they complete approximately eight fraudulent dealership cases each year and that the dealerships typically cause consumers to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Being aware of potential fraud signs can save you from making a costly mistake. Knowing how to spot these red flags ensures that your car-buying experience remains both enjoyable and transparent.

Hidden fees

Always scrutinize the breakdown of costs provided by the dealer. If you notice fees that they did not explain or that seem unusually high, ask for clarification. Dealers should be able to justify every charge on the invoice.

Bait and switch tactics

If a dealer advertises a car at a specific price, but the car is “no longer available” when you visit, and they try to sell you a more expensive vehicle, be cautious. This tactic aims to lure customers in with a great deal and then redirect them to a pricier option.

Changing the contract terms

After discussing and agreeing on the terms of payment, ensure that the written contract reflects those terms accurately. Sometimes, dealers may alter the terms hoping that the buyer will not notice the changes.

Odometer tampering

While this is more common with used cars, always verify the mileage of the car. If it seems too low for the vehicle’s age or condition, the dealer might have tampered with the odometer.

Withholding information

A dealer should provide all the necessary details about the car, including any promotional offers, warranties or return policies. If they seem evasive or unwilling to give straight answers, consider it a red flag.

High-pressure sales

Be wary of dealers who pressure you to make quick decisions or try to rush you through the purchasing process. You should have enough time to review everything carefully and ask any questions.

Buying a new car represents a significant investment, and you deserve honesty and transparency throughout the process. By staying alert and recognizing signs of potential fraud, you can navigate the car-buying experience confidently. Always trust your instincts and do thorough research before making a purchase. This proactive approach ensures that you get the best deal and a vehicle that serves you well for years to come.