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Used Car Buyers, Beware Of The Five Finger Spread


Every time you pick up your phone in the morning and see the notifications you missed while you were asleep, your news feeds and social media accounts are full of frightening tales of new Internet scams.  There are Tik Tok scams and buy now pay later (BNPL) scams, and that is not even counting the Facebook scams, online banking scams, email scams, and the ever popular “the IRS is investigating allegations of fraud related to your social security number voicemails.  When it comes to used car fraud, though, one of the sneakiest ways that used car dealerships cheat you out of money you could have saved goes back to the days of the dot matrix printer, if not earlier.  Whether you lost money because of the so-called “five finger spread” or any other type of dishonest dealings by a used car dealership, contact a Philadelphia used car fraud lawyer.

The Oldest Trick in the Book

For decades, used car dealers have perfected the art of keeping the conversation flowing at a fast enough pace that you do not remember to ask all the questions that doing your due diligence before buying a car requires.  Even though the Internet has made it possible to research your purchases thoroughly before buying, some used car dealers still practice a very old confidence trick known as the “five finger spread.”  They quite literally cover parts of the purchase agreement with their hands while they hold it for you to sign, making it physically impossible for you to see the fine print.

Most of the time, the five-finger spread covers up provisions of the purchase agreement in which you agree to pay for extras that you really do not need.  For example, pre-owned cars do not need paint sealant or rustproofing unless they are really old, but used car dealerships will happily charge you for them.  Likewise, you might unknowingly be paying for fabric protection or VIN etching; these are useful to have, but it is easy to get them applied elsewhere for a fraction of the price that the dealership is charging you.  They might even have you pay for a starter interrupt device; the lender can enable the device if you fall behind on your payments, and if this happens, then your car will not start until you bring your payments.

The five-finger spread is no more complicated than the sleight of hand achieved by the men in sparkly suits who perform magic tricks on street corners in the touristic areas of Philadelphia.  You would be surprised how many people fall for it, though.  Make sure you read the agreement thoroughly before signing to purchase a used car.

Contact Louis S. Schwartz About Old-Fashioned Used Car Fraud

A Philadelphia consumer law attorney can help you protect yourself from all kinds of used car fraud techniques, from the oldest and simplest to the newest and most technologically advanced.  Contact Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com to set up a free, confidential consultation.



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