Are You A Victim Of Auto Dealer Fraud? Seek Help From A California Auto Fraud Lawyer
Experienced California Auto Fraud Attorney Protecting Buyers
Auto dealer fraud occurs when a retail dealer misrepresents, conceals, or fails to disclose an important fact concerning the sale of a new or used automobile. You can press a claim even if the misrepresentation is not included in the written transaction documentation if the dealer made inconsistent verbal representations to you.
A claim of auto dealer fraud is different from a claim under the CA Lemon Law. An auto dealer fraud claim is based on the dealer’s wrongful conduct during the sale, while a Lemon Law claim is based on the condition of the car itself. It is possible, however, to have both an auto dealer fraud claim and a Lemon Law claim at the same time. As your California auto fraud lawyer, I can help you file for both claims at once, if it makes sense for your case.
Buyer’s Rights Under California Law
Following is a list of some of the formal rights that you enjoy under California consumer fraud law. Although this list is not exhaustive, it does cover many of the claims of auto dealer fraud that commonly arise. In a transaction with a retail auto dealer, you have the right to:
- a copy of the Buyer’s Guide, which contains certain legally required information about the vehicle and the transaction;
- copies of all documents that you signed in the transaction;
- disclosure of accurate payment information – you cannot be forced to pay higher interest because of an “error” in arithmetic, for example;
- disclosure of any negative equity in the vehicle (negative equity occurs when the vehicle is being financed for more than its market value);
- disclosure of any previous buyback of the vehicle from a previous owner under the Lemon Law;
- disclosure of any prior use of the vehicle, especially, the use as a rental car;
- an accurate odometer reading or, if the odometer has been rolled back, disclosure of the vehicle’s actual mileage;
- disclosure of significant prior accidents involving the vehicle; and
- consolidation of all information about the transaction into a single contract.
Buying an automobile can be a complex undertaking involving a lot of paperwork. These aspects of the transaction are like the tip of the iceberg, however, compared to the complexity of the legal standards that govern the transaction. A dealer may use complexity and ambiguity to confuse you so that he or she can take advantage of a superior understanding of the transaction. Although the number of tricks that a dealer might use against you is virtually limitless, some of the most common are listed below. These tricks are why it is important to fully understand the transaction and to know your rights as a consumer. They are also a good reason to have an experienced California auto fraud attorney review your transaction before you sign anything.
- Confusing the “money factor” and the interest rate: The applicable interest rate on a financed vehicle is the money factor times 2,400. This means, for example, that a money factor of .0027 adds up to an interest rate of 6.48 percent. A normally verbose dealer might observe a sudden “moment of silence” once he or she understands that you naively assume a money factor of .0027 means an interest rate of 2.7 percent.
- Contractual “errors”: Vehicle sales contracts contain lots of information, especially of the numerical variety. If you find an “error,” it is more likely to favor the dealer than to favor you, as you might imagine.
- The “certified” vehicle scam: The dealer represents that a used vehicle is “certified” under California law when in fact it is not.
- Fake window stickers: The “dealer sticker” price actually includes numerous options and fictitious charges, leading you to overestimate how much the vehicle is actually worth.
- “Yo-yo” financing: After the dealer leads you to believe that financing has been approved, you drive the car home, only to hear several days later that financing was rejected. Since the value of a new vehicle drops substantially the moment you drive it off the lot, you can be pressured into accepting alternative financing on the dealer’s terms (hint: you won’t like it). Meanwhile, your trade-in car has already been sold, or so the dealer assures you.
- Title laundering: Titles, like money, can be laundered. A vehicle that has been salvaged or totaled in one state can be titled in another state to conceal the vehicle’s troubled history.
- Payment packing: Quoting monthly payments that include add-ons and charges that you didn’t request and concealing them by extending the length of your repayment period.
- Pocketing your rebate: Depending on which type of car you buy, you might be eligible for multiple rebates. If you are not aware of this, the dealer might just pocket your rebate.
- Including rebates in the negotiated price: Suppose you negotiate a price of $22,400. You may think that you only have to pay $21,400 once you subtract a $1,000 rebate. Subsequently, your dealer tells you that the $22,400 price you just negotiated includes all rebates.
- Pressuring you to make a hasty decision with a surprise “now or never” offer: If it’s available today, it will probably be available next week. Never let anyone pressure you into making a quick decision in a complex automobile purchase transaction.
- Failing to include add-ons that you have negotiated for: You might have negotiated for a navigation system, but the dealer did not install it. An “unintentional oversight”? Not likely.
- Bait and switch: A bait and switch occur when the dealer “lowballs” you over the phone or by email with an enticing but unrealistically low price. Of course, the dealer jacks up the price once you arrive. The dealer was using the lowball offer to lure you into the dealership. They will most likely try to sell you another vehicle on less favorable terms.
- Hiding engine problems using diesel oil: Diesel oil can be used to conceal otherwise obvious problems with a car’s engine. If you suspect this scam, contact a California auto fraud law firm before you agree to any specific remedy. You might be entitled to more compensation than you think.
- Selling you a vehicle that has been recalled due to safety issues: This practice is not necessarily even illegal if you are buying a used car. It is against federal law if you are buying a new car.
- Stealing your down payment: To do this, a dealer only needs to alter or remove the “capitalized cost reduction” term in your sales contract.
- Unreasonable charges for “wear and tear” of a leased vehicle: The leasing company is the party that determines exactly what constitutes “excessive” wear and tear, which is like having a mouse guard the cheese. California auto fraud law firm deals with this scam frequently.
- Hiding unwanted add-ons in the monthly payment: The financing party can extend your repayment period or raise your monthly payments to pay not only for the vehicle but for add-ons that you didn’t want such as an extended warranty.
- The “zero percent financing” scam: Only the manufacturer can offer you a legitimate zero percent financing deal. If the dealer offers you this, they are simply jacking up the sales price to compensate.
- Making false verbal representations: In an automobile purchase transaction, verbal promises are just as binding as written representations–they are just more difficult to prove. Top-tier California auto fraud lawyers know how to deal with this problem effectively.
- ¨Good cop, bad cop”: The salesperson is the good cop, but the sales manager is the “bad cop.” This is a common negotiation tactic that is unethical but not illegal.
If you believe that you are being led on, call me and tell me about your experience with the car dealer. Let me help protect you, as your California auto fraud attorney. You will not have to pay for a consultation.
Call California Auto Fraud Lawyer Douglas D. Law, Esq.
California auto fraud attorneys can practice nearly any field of law immediately after being licensed, and most attorneys practice in a wide variety of fields. I took a different path and focused my practice around auto dealer fraud and lemon law. As an attorney, my 99% success rate and thousands of satisfied clients testify to the success of this approach. I operate on a “no win, no pay” basis – if I am unable to obtain a recovery for you, you will owe me nothing in lawyer’s fees. All attorney’s fees and costs are paid for by the manufacturer or dealership. If you believe you may have an auto dealer fraud claim anywhere in California, speak with our trusted San Diego auto fraud lawyer at The Law Offices of Douglas D. Law, Esq. Call my office at (888)829-9033 or contact me online for a free case evaluation. Let me protect you as your California auto dealer fraud lawyer.