What are some signs of auto dealer fraud?

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There has long been a stereotype against car dealers and salespeople that they are aggressive and dishonest. However, for every person who might fit this stereotype, there are countless others who do not.

This is not to say that dealer fraud doesn't happen. It can, and it does. If you feel like you are the victim of unlawful or deceptive practices, you could have a legal claim against a dealer who committed fraud. However, you might not always recognize the signs of fraud, as they can be well hidden and subtle. Below are some signs you can look for.

  1. You were pressured to buy a car other than the one the dealer advertised: "Bait and switch" is a tactic where dealers advertise one car at a price, but when you inquire about it, they say that car or price is not available. They then use aggressive sales tactics to get you to buy a different, more expensive vehicle.
  2. Your vehicle has several problems, despite low mileage: Sometimes, this could be a sign of a lemon, which is a vehicle with defects. However, it could also be a sign that a dealer altered the vehicle or misrepresented its history. The dealer might have rolled back the odometer or lied about the fact that the vehicle was in a serious crash, both of which are examples of fraud.
  3. Your invoice doesn't make sense. Major transactions like car purchases have complicated invoices. Some auto dealers take advantage of this and add on charges, double charge you for something included in the sales price or underpay you for a trade-in. Oftentimes, buyers don't notice or understand these discrepancies until after they drive off the lot.

If you are the victim of dealer fraud, you might be feeling embarrassed or powerless. However, understand that these unlawful practices are typically very difficult for an average car buyer to identify, especially in all the excitement of buying a new car. And you do have rights and the option to take legal action against fraudulent dealers and dealerships.

To learn more about your options and rights, you can consult an attorney experienced in pursuing dealer fraud claims in California.

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