Buying a used car is always a risk, and California consumers often feel vulnerable when negotiating with dealers. Often, if a car has a defect, the dealer was unaware, and he or she will do whatever possible to correct the situation. However, when car buyers faces dealer fraud, they may be uncertain where to turn for help or how to seek a satisfactory resolution.
Dealer fraud is different from buying a lemon. When someone purchases a car that's a lemon, the problem is with the vehicle, its design or its parts. Fraud is when a car salesperson intentionally misleads the consumer in order to sell a vehicle or to get a price higher than what the vehicle is worth.
Bait and switch is a common tactic used by car dealers, but certainly not the only scheme. Car dealers advertise a certain vehicle at an attractive price to lure buyers onto the lot. After telling the shoppers that the advertised car is no longer available, the salesperson begins an aggressive sales pitch to attempt to sell the consumer a more expensive vehicle.
Fraudulent dealers may also do cosmetic repairs on a flood-damaged or salvaged car and pass it off to an unsuspecting buyer. Perhaps the most common method of car dealer fraud is failing to disclose important information. This could mean lying about the car's accident history or illegally rolling back the odometer.
Consumers stuck with defective cars sold to them through dealer fraud may feel they have no options, especially if they have tried to negotiate with the car dealer. However, there are options available to victims of fraud in California. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is usually a good first step.
Source: FindLaw, "Auto Dealer Fraud FAQ", Accessed on Jan. 9, 2018