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Common Types of Auto Dealer Fraud


Both federal and state law require used car dealers to abide by certain rules when selling vehicles in Pennsylvania. For instance, dealers must disclose specific kinds of damage, including bent frames, flood damage, and problems with the transmission. Additionally, used car dealers must follow strict rules when it comes to advertising, so if you recently purchased a used car from a dealership and later discovered that the vehicle was damaged, negligently repaired, or was not under warranty as promised, you should speak with a used car fraud attorney who can help you hold the at-fault party accountable.

Adding Unwanted Options

In an attempt to increase their profits, some dealers will pack their contracts with features and services that the buyer didn’t request. The most common examples of this practice include adding protection packages, rustproofing, and extended warranties, all of which come with additional charges. Consumers are strongly encouraged to carefully read their contracts to ensure that if these items are included in the boilerplate language, that they are removed and the overall price is reduced. Alternatively, if a salesperson offered these options free, the buyer should make sure that no charge was included in the contract.

Bait and Switch Advertising

Using unlawful methods of advertising is one of the most common types of fraud committed in the used car sales industry. Bait and switch advertising is particularly prevalent and occurs when a dealer advertises a vehicle at a certain price, but when the buyer arrives, tells him or her that the advertised price is no longer available. This type of conduct is unlawful if the cars were never  available at the listed price and the dealer can be held liable. Buyers are encouraged to read the fine print on advertisements, call the dealership ahead of time to confirm the offer, and bring a physical copy of the ad with them to the seller. This makes it much more difficult for a dealer to defraud a buyer by using the bait and switch technique.

Misrepresenting a Car’s Condition

Used car dealers are required to disclose certain types of damage to potential buyers, including:

  • Engine block damage;
  • Differential damage;
  • Damage to the transmission;
  • Bent or broken frames; and
  • Flood damage.

Aside from these specific types of damage, dealers are also required to disclose any problem that would keep a vehicle from passing a state safety inspection. Sellers who fail to comply with these rules put buyers at risk of sustaining serious injury or paying for expensive repairs. Fortunately, these individuals can be held liable for damages, which could include a refund for the price of the car, as well as any repairs that the buyer was forced to make, and compensation for related expenses.

Call Us Today for Legal Assistance

If you purchased a vehicle from a used car dealer and later discovered that you were purposely misled or misinformed about the car’s price, accident history, or condition, please contact dedicated used car fraud lawyer Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com in Pennsylvania to learn more about holding the at-fault party liable for damages.



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