Sneaky car dealer scams plus four tips to keep you and your car safe: Internet ScamBusters #207
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today we’ve got a Special Issue for you on how to avoid the
newest car dealer scams (they are really sneaky!). Plus, we
have four tips to help you keep you and your auto safe during
the holiday season, when auto thefts are especially high.
As always, we first recommend you check out the most popular
articles from our other sites during the past week:
Using Credit Cards This Holiday Season: What you need to know to use
credit cards the right way during the holiday season.
Identity Theft and Airports: Tips to help you reduce your risk of
identity theft while you travel.
Dry Cleaning Know-How: What you really ought to know about dry cleaning services.
Unveiling the Hottest Christmas Toys for 2006: Want to know the six
hottest Christmas toys for 2006? Click here now.
Some Christmas Games to Play This Holiday Season:
Christmas games can add excitement to any holiday celebration.
The History of Christmas Pudding: Find out why
Christmas Pudding should be more than a long forgotten tradition.
Let’s get going with today’s Special Issue…
How to avoid the two newest car dealer scams
It never ceases to amaze us how cunning some car dealers are
— they seem to constantly think of new ways to take advantage
of car buyers. Here are two of the most recent car dealer
ploys that we haven’t yet written about:
1. Spot Delivery: You’ve chosen the car you want, filled out
all the paperwork (including the car loan application with the
car dealer’s finance department). The car dealer tells you
that although your loan hasn’t been “officially” approved yet,
you can drive the car home anyway.
Here’s what can happen if you do: A few days later, you’ll get
a call from the car dealership saying your loan wasn’t
approved at the interest rate you discussed. However, you
were approved at a higher rate.
This means that you’ll likely pay thousands of dollars more
than you expected.
Further, if you try to call off the deal, the car dealer will
either tell you that they already sold your trade-in so you
have no options, or they simply will say they’ll sue you if
you don’t agree to the new terms.
The worst part is that you probably are stuck, because the
loan agreement included a “writ of rescission,” which means
that you agreed to pay a higher interest rate if you did not
qualify for the loan at the original, agreed-upon rate.
Be careful. And don’t take your new car home from the car
dealer until all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.
2. Mandatory Arbitration or Conflict Resolution: This ploy
sounds reasonable at first, but be very cautious…
After everything else has been agreed to, the sales person
asks you to sign a “Dispute Resolution” or “Conflict
Resolution” agreement. The sales person tells you it just says
that if a problem occurs, you agree to settle through
arbitration and not take the car dealer to court.
Although arbitration can certainly be a reasonable option, the
fine print is where the problems lie.
The agreement may well say that the car dealer chooses the
arbiter… and/or that you pay the entire arbitration fee
(regardless of who wins)… and/or that you cannot appeal the
decision but the car dealer can. It also often includes a
clause that you can’t participate in any class-action lawsuits
against the dealership — no matter what they do!
So, make sure you read any arbitration agreements before you
sign them to make sure they are fair, and show them to your
In fact, we recommend that you ask the car dealer whether or
not they require an arbitration agreement BEFORE you look at
any cars. If they do require a dispute resolution agreement,
check out the fine print first, and if it has the provisions
we’ve just described, shop elsewhere.
Many sleazy car dealerships require these agreements because
they’d get sued frequently without them.
Many people buy cars at this time of year. For more advice on
how not to get taken by car dealers, check out some of our
Car Sales: Are They a Scam?
How to Sell a Car: Avoid the Consignment Scam
Learn how to avoid one of the biggest auto financing scams — ‘packed payments’
What is the
Best Day to Purchase a Car?
Four tips to keep you and your car safe
During the holiday season people are busier than ever, and so
are car thieves. Experts say auto theft and accident scams
rise during the holiday season. So, here are some tips that
will help keep you and your car safe:
1. This may seem obvious, but so many people seem to forget to
do this, especially during the holidays: Don’t leave valuable
items, gifts, or other items that thieves might be interested
in visible by people walking by your car. This is, of course,
especially true in shopping mall parking lots. Store your
valuables (and everything else, if possible) in the trunk of
your car — locked.
2. Never, ever leave your keys in your car (either with the
motor on or off) while you quickly run into a store or to do
some errand. And be sure to lock your car and close the
windows, even for a few minutes.
Car thieves are very fast — it only takes a moment for them
to steal your car. Don’t think auto theft can’t happen to
you; it can.
3. Be very aware of parking lots scams: Just because the
perfume parking lot hoax is an urban legend doesn’t mean there
aren’t many real parking lot scams. (You can read about the
perfume hoax here.)
Here are two examples of real parking lot scams that are very
common, especially at this time of year:
– The “parking lot peddler” or “white van” scams involve
people who drive white vans parked in neighborhood malls
displaying signs advertising very inexpensive, but supposedly
high quality equipment, jewelry, and even artwork and
The sales people promise that all products come with a
“satisfaction guarantee.” Unfortunately, they’ll be long gone
by the time you realize the merchandise is either defective,
counterfeit or very low quality.
– Another very different parking lot scam involves a driver
that supposedly helps you back out of a parking space by
waving you out, and then either runs into your car himself or
works with a partner who collides with you. It’s an easy way
for them to falsify an insurance claim with you at fault.
4. Be especially careful during bad winter weather: take
enough time so you don’t have to rush and can get where you’re
going safely. If you do need a tow, make sure that the tow
truck company is actually the one your car insurer or auto
club sent, not a scam artist who just drove by and wants to
rip you off.
That’s all for today — we’ll see you next week.