Games Dealers Play: Scratch and Win Mailing Scams

Scratch Ticket.jpgOne particularly nasty scam favored by many car dealerships is the "Scratch and Win" promotion. In this scam, the dealer mails cards resembling instant lottery tickets to consumers. The consumer scratches the ticket and, not having fully understood the confusing and obscure disclaimers on the ticket, believes that they have won a big prize. The consumer must go to the dealership to collect the prize.

After coming to the dealership, consumers are kept waiting for hours expecting to receive their "prize," while they are being subjected to high-pressure and, frequently, fraudulent sales practices. Typically, these promotions involve outside companies who bring in additional sales and finance people to supplement the dealership's usual employees. Some of these people are not particularly concerned about the consequences of their fraud. When the consumer comes back to complain, they will be running another scam in another state.

Elderly and intellectually disabled consumers are particularly vulnerable to this type of scam. In many instances, they significantly overpay for the cars. Many consumers agree to payments that they cannot afford based upon false promises that they can refinance the car for a much lower payment after six months.  Frequently, these deals are financed by banks or finance companies as a result of credit application fraud by the dealership.

It is an unfair trade practice for a business to engage in a bogus prize promotion scam. Elderly consumers and those who are intellectually disabled are particularly vulnerable to this predatory sales practice. If you receive a questionable "Scratch and Win" promotion from a car dealership, then you should file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection, who has authority to enforce unfair trade practices laws. And, if you or a friend or family member has been taken advantage of by a car dealership, then you should contact an experienced lawyer for assistance. 

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