Wednesday

The Next BIG Fraud Device?

Watch out! The next big fraud is one you don't see coming. It's a convenience that sounds easy but it can cost you thousands of dollars when you buy your next car or truck - before you even know it has happened to you.

Easy signing, easy stealing
Many car dealers and other merchants are now using electronic signature pads. Those are the little devices about the size of a paperback book or smaller, where they have you sign on the dotted line and it puts your signature on their contract or sale documents.

Easy, huh? Convenient, huh? Yeah, but a very slick way to steal your signature and put it on any kind of document or contract or other agreement that they want - and they insist that you knew and consented to it - after all, that really is your signature, right? Yeah, right ...

We have seen a sudden rash of electronic document signing taking place at one Miami Valley car dealership chain used in a clever way that costs customers thousands of dollars in unseen and unauthorized charges on top of their car purchase that the customer doesn't even see happening to them.

When you sign the pad, the dealer says it makes it easier for them to print out the documents for you --- yeah, right. Then they pack into the sales papers extra stuff you didn't know about and add it to the sale price of the car or truck you are buying.

Stuff like rustproofing for an extra (and hefty) $1,249. Or the "etch theft guard" that they sometimes call "Security Coding" for an extra $299. Or how about that "Dent Protection" for another $299? Or maybe the mysterious "Personal Assistant" (whatever that is) for another $299? How about some "GAP" for $900 or "Easycare" (which is really their extended warranty without telling you what it is) for a really hefty $2,795?

And all that stuff means you pay more sales tax too. And when you let them finance the car loan for you, it means you pay more in interest charges too. We have seen some contracts where an extra $4,000 to $7,000 is piled on top of the price. And it gets even worse if you lease the vehicle because you can't see where the extra charges are buried into the vehicle's "capitalized cost" because they aren't itemized on your lease at all.

Use a real pen on real paper
Always insist on signing with an ink pen put to paper. Don't trust someone else's computer. After all, if they don't put your name on extra charges in your deal, they can still steal the electronic signature and forge it later on something else. And heaven help you if that car finance salesman copies it to the memory stick in his pocket and takes it home, along with a copy of your credit application too.

Don't trust any car dealer who wants you to use an electronic signature pad. It's the surest way to rip you off without you seeing it happening. You may never know it happened. And if you do figure it out, it may already be too late.

But if it happens to you, in Fairborn or Miamisburg or Beavercreek, in Columbus or anywhere else in Ohio, call us. If it happens to you at a Chevrolet dealer, a Nissan dealer, a Mazda dealer, a GMC dealer, or a Mitsubishi or any other car dealer, call us. Car Sales Fraud is what we call it. And we go after the car dealer to get your money back. It's what we do. And with electronic signature pads being used more and more often by car dealers, we are finding more and more car sales fraud practices at dishonest car dealerships.

Burdge Law Office
Because you work too hard for your money,
to let a car dealer cheat you out of it.

Tuesday

Car Dealer Pays $600,000+ to Settle 16 Lawsuits, 5 Complaints

The headline reads "Auto Dealer Target of Lawsuits"

Burdge Law Office has been fighting car sales fraud in Ohio and Kentucky for more than 25 years and the consumer complaints about Ohio and Kentucky car dealers haven't stopped coming into the office. Headlines in local papers, like the one above, seem to just keep happening.

In fact, we are seeing more complaints about vehicle sales fraud than ever before, many of them alleging a "systematic and organized pattern" of deceptive practices that sometimes have cost consumers thousands of extra dollars in each sale.

Allegations include the use of a "5 finger close" where the finance salesperson holds their hand on the paperwork while getting the customer's signature on a contract that includes extra charges they were not aware of, charging $1,249 or more for rust-proofing that may not even on the vehicle being sold, charging exorbitant prices for window "theft deterrent" etching that consumers and others allege is nearly worthless, among other things.

Some consumers explain that the extra charges occurred in a way that is called "payment packing" in the auto sales industry - where extra charges are added in the dealer's payment amount quoted early in the process without the customer knowing about it. The customer thinks buying the car will cost, for example, $400 a month because that is what the dealer said. But in fact the dealer knew that it would only cost $350 a month but they said $400 so that the finance office would have $50 of "leg" in the deal --- where they could add extra cost products without surprising the buyer when they hear the finance office quote the precise monthly payment amount for the vehicle.

We have seen charges on sales papers that seem exorbitant compared to what other dealers charge for the same or similar products and services. Dealers charge extra for what they commonly call "soft add on" products. They are called that because they add no real "hard" value to the vehicle being sold in the deal.

Soft add on's may include such things as "Personal Assistant," Gap insurance (which in Ohio is not really insurance at all), extended warranties, "dent" repair services, "security coding" (which is really just window stickers or hard-to-see etching), and "key" replacement programs.

The tactic of a salesperson or the finance office misquoting a payment amount to a prospective buyer is widely called "payment packing" in the car sales industry and has been admitted to be deceptive.

In the summer of 2013 one dealer's general manager was quoted in an Automotive News article as saying, "If somebody's numbers have fallen in finance, they know there is a talent pool of aggressive salespeople who want their job." And, the article goes on, if the numbers fall the finance salesman can find himself back on the floor doing ordinary sales work.

The result of the rising tide of consumer complaints about sales fraud is a rising number of lawsuits involving both new and used vehicle sales and leases throughout Ohio as consumers seem to be discovering what happened to them at car dealerships who engage in such unfair and deceptive practices.

If you were ripped off by a car dealer or treated unfairly or with deception, call Burdge Law Office on their Toll Free Car Sales Fraud Hotline, 1.888.331.6422 or email them for free help getting back your money and getting justice.


Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers For Over 25 Years