Many auto dealers are honorable and care about their clients, but others are more interested in making money. This can mean that they go to certain illegal or unethical lengths to make a sale. Below is a short list of typical salesmen scams:
- Bait and switch: This involves a salesman agreeing to a price and proceeds to write up the paperwork. When they do this, there is a higher price on the contract that includes fees not mentioned. Walk away from the deal if they do not honor the offer accepted by the salesperson.
- Advertising bait and switch: Other retailers refer to these as loss leaders or doorbusters, but the advertiser must have a certain amount of product on hand if they advertise the price. Call ahead if it sounds too good to be true, and specify the car.
- Packing the contract: This occurs when the salesperson adds in such add-ons as service contracts, additional warranties, rustproofing or protection packages. If the buyer sees something they do not want, they should ask for it to be removed.
- Selling a lemon: Lemon laws can apply to used cars, but it is still a good idea to always test drive a vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
- Lying about credit scores: Dishonest dealers will lie about a customer’s credit score, so the customer has to take out a more lucrative higher interest loan. It is always a good idea to check a credit score before car shopping.
- Co-signer fraud: This happens when a friend of family co-signs a contract that is “only a formality,” but they later find out that they are equally responsible for the loan.
- Trade-in fraud: Good car dealers will give a higher than average amount on a trade-in, but a fraudster will low-ball the buyer. It is always a good idea to have a general idea of a car’s value before trading it in.
Buyers have protections
Buyers who feel they were taken advantage of through fraudulent means may wish to speak with an attorney. These legal professionals can help hold scammers accountable for their actions.