Whether it’s a car, truck, or SUV – for most people, this basic necessity of modern day life is the next-biggest cost on the monthly budget next to mortgage or rent. And with negotiable pricing, varied financing plans, add-on options and upgrades, even the smartest, savviest consumer can be misled – or even bamboozled – by an unethical auto dealer. Pennsylvania law provides consumers a number of protections if that purchase fails to live up to the seller’s promises.
Some car dealers don’t follow the rules.
Year-after-year, auto-related grievances continuously rank among the top 10 consumer complaints recorded with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There are many types of auto fraud, and unfortunately, they are astonishingly common. But the basis of having a valid legal case of fraud is simple:
- A ‘material omission’ was made (information was withheld – whether asked or not), or
- A ‘misrepresentation’ was made (to state something as fact that is untrue).
Let’s look at an example ‘material omission’ scenario: After being shown a number of used vehicles at the local car dealer, Alex decides to buy a small, fuel-efficient sedan. After all, the test drive went well and the salesperson said that the sedan is a great car that will last a long time. Alex drives off the lot with the newly purchased vehicle. But just a few days later, the check engine light comes on. Alex’s trusted mechanic inspects the car and finds the front end of the vehicle is out of alignment and has frame damage: evidence of a prior accident. Stunned, Alex takes the car back to the dealership. The dealer is apologetic, but claims they can’t help Alex. But the dealer is wrong – if they knew, or should have known, about that frame damage prior to sale, they were required by law to disclose this. Otherwise, the dealership is liable for auto fraud. Other examples of information that require disclosure: if a vehicle was a “lemon law” buyback, a prior rental, a prior salvage, or had been in an accident that required major repair work such as suspension damage.
Instances of ‘misrepresentation’ can be blatant. To name a few – selling a used car as “new”, odometer tampering, price, rate and/or trade-in terms switched on contracts. In short – if a dealership fails to follow the law, or knowingly ignores it, you may have a claim of auto fraud.
We put the brakes on auto fraud in Pennsylvania.
At our law firm, our approach is thorough. We look at a number of factors to determine if you have a case of auto fraud – from purchase to finance paperwork, the vehicle’s prior history (where it came from, number of previous owners) and more. We also often review your bill of sale, warranty, and odometer disclosure. If you have any work orders from repair attempts, we will include those in our review.
If you think you are a victim of auto fraud, give us a call for a free case evaluation. This telephone consultation is no obligation, and in most cases, we can take your case and you don’t have to pay attorney fees.
For your free case evaluation, call us at (412) 209-0657.