Some car dealerships routinely make promises that they know cannot be kept. "Come back in six months" they say, "Your credit will be better and we can get you a lower payment."
Many consumers contact us after they discover that they paid significantly more than the "sticker price", or the manufacturer's suggested retail price ("MSRP") for a new car.
All too often, consumers come home from a dealership and realize that they cannot make their new car payments. They often wonder how they could possibly have been approved for a loan that they could not afford. Most often, they are victims of credit application fraud.
Industry insiders know that some auto dealerships regularly engage in criminal activity. For example, one employee of a large Connecticut dealership recently confirmed to me that dealership employees routinely forge signatures; he said that forging a signature was "like smoking a cigarette," something done many times a day.
Most consumers trade-in their old vehicle when buying a new car. These deals can be complicated if there is still money owed on the trade-in, and a consumer can have real problems when the dealership does not pay off the trade-in.
Games Dealers Play: The Waiting Game
The Arizona Attorney General has obtained a consent judgment against a used car dealership for multiple acts of auto dealer fraud. The dealership was accused of selling cars with salvage titles without dislosing the status of the title, not properly disclosing financing terms, and making false promises that defects would be repaired. The dealership also sold vehicles that had hazardous defects and failed to comply with state warranty requirements.
Incidents of fraud by auto dealers are higher for lower priced cars, according to a recent study. The study, which was conducted by iSeeCars.com, evaluated millions of advertised vehicles and determined that the lower the price, the greater the likelihood that there was fraud relating to the vehicle's history or condition.
Car dealers like to brag about their relationships with multiple banks and finance companies, and they often imply that these connections help consumers get low interest rates. But, many consumers would be surprised to learn that car dealers frequently mark-up the interest rates. In many deals, the dealership makes more money by marking up the interest rate than they profit from the sale itself.