First-time car buyers, the elderly, people with poor or no credit and other vulnerable customers may not realize the rights they have as consumers when they step onto a car dealer’s lot. They may be too timid to ask questions, or they may not even know the appropriate questions to ask. When something does not seem right, they may be unsure how to speak up for themselves or fear they may ask a question that will make them look foolish. This puts them at the perfect disadvantage for becoming victims of a dealer scam.
One common scam is especially heinous. This con occurs after the customer and the dealer have reached agreements for the various transactions. Customers may be stressed and weary at this point because they have discussed and even haggled over the amounts for the following:
- The amount the customer will pay for the vehicle
- The trade-in value on the customer’s vehicle
- The amount of money the customer will put down
- The cost of additional features the customer agreed to
- The total for taxes and fees
The salesperson will then step away to prepare the contract. However, an unscrupulous dealer may change some of the amounts, adding to the cost of one or more items. The dealer then presents the contract to the customer, who signs it, assuming it contains the details they had discussed. The customer may end up spending hundreds more than the amount previously agreed upon. After this dealer scam, the victims may feel too embarrassed to fight for their rights, and this is what the salesperson is counting on.