Readers of our blog are no stranger to car buying scams. Indeed, many of our blogs are devoted to auto dealer fraud, like last week’s blog. In that blog post, we described how some online “internet prices” were actually after an undisclosed down payment. And, after reading that post, the most common question is how to avoid these types of fraud.
Read the entire post carefully
The first step is to read everything in the listing, including (especially) any text that is a smaller font or different color. Sometimes, there is additional text that is disguised as website notices and not part of the listing itself. Do not be fooled, read everything.
Do not just rely on that posting
If the vehicle ad is from a dealership, go to that dealership’s website to find the same car. Check that website’s disclaimers too. If the pricing includes the words, “Internet Price” or “Finance Price,” beware! These prices can often be different than the cash price because they do not include undisclosed fees or down payment requirements.
Contact the dealership directly
No one wants to waste their time, especially at a car dealership. Before going to the dealership, call them or e-mail them directly. Use the dealership’s direct contact information listed on their website, not the one listed on the ad. Sometimes, an ad may have been placed by a scammer, not affiliated with the dealership, and contacting the dealership directly will ensure that the car and price actually exist.
One last tip
Deceptive pricing is not always about lying about the price, it can also be lying about the value. This is why reputable dealerships offer AutoCheck or CarFax reports on all used cars. This can identify issues that could devalue the vehicle. If one is not offered by the dealership, that is a red flag.
Auto dealer fraud is a real problem here in Connecticut, but, luckily, our state also has laws to protect consumers. Though, one will likely need to contact an attorney to get help.