How Do I Report Car Fraud?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2019
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Consumer protection agencies typically accept car fraud complaints where laws exist that regulate the sales of automobiles. In some areas, car fraud cannot be reported unless the customer contacts the dealer where the vehicle was purchased and tries to resolve the dispute before filing a complaint. He or she should address the issue in writing and clearly explain what action would correct the problem. If no satisfactory solution is found, a complaint can be filed. An attorney who specializes in automobile fraud might be sought for advice on legal action.

Vehicle fraud covers a vehicle's advertised price, financing terms, warranties, and disclosure laws on pre-owned cars, which typically trigger the most complaints. Used-car dealerships typically must tell a customer if the vehicle was involved in an accident that caused substantial damage. Disclosure laws commonly require disclosure of automobiles used as rentals and information about any alterations to the odometer.

Used-car fraud might be reported if a dealership does not tell a customer about a recognized manufacturer’s defect or that the automobile was used for demonstration purposes. Cars used as demos generally must be sold as used vehicles. Some used-car laws also apply to any new vehicle returned by a customer who could not obtain financing or for any other reason.


Complaints might be registered if a used vehicle is certified as safe and in good mechanical condition, but it does not meet minimum standards of the used-car industry. When a used automobile receives certification, it means no defects were found and the automobile sustained no major damage in an accident. A dealer who falsely claims a vehicle is certified could be the subject of a car fraud complaint.

Advertising represents another area where fraud might occur. A dealer generally must honor an advertised price, including the sticker amount. Some cases of car fraud occur when a salesman adds the cost of standard factory equipment to the sales price. These tactics fraudulently add to the cost of financing, taxes, and licensing fees. If a dealer fails to tell a customer about manufacturer’s rebates, and pockets the rebate, it commonly points to car fraud.

Financing laws aim to protect customers from car fraud by unscrupulous dealers. Laws in some regions require one document that covers all aspects of the purchase and financial terms. This form should outline all obligations of the buyer and seller, including down payment, trade-in vehicle value, and finance rate.


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