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Auto sales fraud: What to know as a consumer

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2022 | Consumer Protection

As a consumer, your goal is to purchase items that work. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that will just need repairs or a replacement in a few months or years.

This is especially true when you think about purchasing a vehicle. If you’re locked into a sale and are left with a lemon, you could spend thousands of dollars trying to make things right. On top of that, you may not be able to use the vehicle you bought.

Auto dealer fraud: A problem in West Virginia

Auto dealer fraud is a big problem in the state. These individuals may use unreasonable and unkind tactics to sell vehicles that are not safe for use or that are in ill repair.

Sometimes, auto dealers use bait-and-switch tactics to sell vehicles that have a history of damage without informing the consumer. Those hidden problems may not appear right away, but they can result in expensive repairs and accidents down the line.

What kinds of actions are fraudulent in West Virginia?

Car dealers could be accused of auto fraud if:

  • The vehicle’s accident history is not disclosed
  • Previous damage isn’t disclosed
  • You’re sold a vehicle with significant mechanical issues
  • You are charged for unnecessary labor
  • You’re sold used car parts as new
  • The dealers have misrepresented the true coverage offered through an extended warranty
  • The dealers misrepresent the vehicle as a factory, executive or demo vehicle
  • They roll back the odometer unlawfully

These and other actions are not legal and may constitute auto fraud.  Most, but not all, auto sales in West Virginia are accompanied by an implied warranty, which protects consumers who purchase defective vehicles.  “As is” sales are permitted in limited circumstances for older vehicles or those with over 100,000, with proper disclosures.  Dealers must provide a vehicle history report for “as is” vehicle sales.

What can you do if you’re sold a lemon?

If you are sold a vehicle that doesn’t work as described, it may be possible to file a claim against the dealership or individual who sold it. It may be appropriate to have your case investigated and to make a claim to get your money back and to have others held accountable for their actions.

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