Auto Dealership Fraud: New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

Did a dealership do the following?:






Most salesmen are trained either officially or unofficially. Many dealerships use third-party providers and send their salesman for training. Many dealerships simply train their salesman by using more experienced salespersons. However, there are some very specific tools that salesman use while selling vehicles. The old adage is true 1st you by the salesman then you buy the product. Salesmen do everything in an attempt to gain your trust. Once the gain your trust they can take advantage. You should not feel obligated to buy a vehicle just because you’ve been speaking to a salesman for a long period of time. You should not sign documents by vehicle just because you’ve been at the dealership for many hours and you need to go. There are some very simple tactics that salesman use. They attempt to divide spouses and keep their attention separate. They attempt to keep you there as long as possible and tire you out. They make it difficult for you to leave. Some of these things would include hiding your trade vehicle or making it difficult to get the keys. Every time you get up early have another offer or need you another any minutes. These role techniques and tactics the car salesman use to sell you vehicles and keep you at the dealership and to keep you confused. Because if you are thinking correctly most of the time you probably wouldn’t buy the vehicle.

Price Packing

The price packing is both a legal term and an industry term. The basic concept behind price packing is that the dealership will work you put on payments. This means that they will quote you certain payment based on what you’ve told them. Many times this payment is too high for the vehicle. This means as an example if you said you would pay $300 per month and the vehicle which you are looking at and it only costs $280 per month they put extra items and or raise the price and increase financing to go from $280 to $300 per month. This is commonly called a bump.

Vin Cloning

Vin cloning is the use of fake vans to sell automobiles. This is not that common but is a tactic still used by many reputable individuals trying to make money by selling vehicles. What they do is salvage or get a van out of an auction or junkyard its clean. And the Venice put on a vehicle that is stolen or has many problems. Thus the Vin that you are looking at and either Carfax research appears clean when the car in fact itself might be stolen or have many other defects. Occasionally you will see a story on the news where a vehicle suddenly gets picked up by police that an individual has purchased despite the fact that the event has checked out as clear.

Vehicle History and Damages Cars

Misrepresentations as to the vehicle history is one of the most common claims for fraud and consumer fraud that I see on a daily basis. It is not a comment for a car dealership or salesman lie about the history of the vehicle in either a important or tangential manner. As an example they might say it has one owner when it in fact it had many. They might say it was driven by a little old lady one of fact they purchased at auction. The dealer might say that a representative of the dealership drove the car and use that as a demo, when in fact it had been used as a loner. This requires extensive diligence on an individual purchasing the car and make sure they write down all the representations and have the representative of the dealership whether it be the salesman or the finance manager to confirm in writing the promises. This way when later on down the road you discover that the representations were false you have an appropriate basis to make a claim which is easier than if you did not have these representations in writing.

Credit Applications

The salesman will have the consumer sign a blank credit application and place false information to have his or her credit approved. There are consumer and criminal laws covering this area. The dealer, or anyone for that matter, cannot place false information on a credit application to get a loan. Get copies of all credit application forms from both the lender and the finance company on your transaction.  Information and changes in the credit application usually are the basis for many used car scams and consumer fraud.

Misleading Advertisements/bait and switch

Misleading advertising is a very ripe area for litigation and dealership abuse. Misleading advertising can occur in many different ways. Often, a dealership will advertise a vehicle which they might not have an inventory. The purpose is to lower potential customers to the dealership and have them purchase another vehicle. Another tactic that is available to dealerships is known as the golden hammer. The vehicle which is advertised might have damage or some other issue so when the customer gets there they disclose this and then they switch the customer into another vehicle. Another right area for litigation is advertised price. Frequently dealerships advertise a price on the website which is different than the posted price on the vehicle. This requires extreme customer diligence.

Window Etching

This product is overpriced and has very little to offer the consumers who purchase cars. Window etching is a product that offers a benefit for those who "choose" to purchase the product. This product on the net is always cheaper than at the dealership even if you do want to use the product. Usually it appears as a pre printed item on the buyer's order or other dealer documents.

Appearance Packages

Appearance packages or commonly extras utilized by the dealership to increase the sales price of the vehicle. What will happen is as follows: When vehicle’s gets to the dealership lot whether it be new or used the dealership will apply various products. Sometimes these products might be pin-striping, wheel well molding or door edge guards. Usually these items have a value at less than $50 and the dealership increases the price of the vehicle as part of an appearance package by thousands of dollars. Then the dealership uses these items as a leverage in negotiating to sell the vehicle is at a higher price. Not before these items have almost no value and the only reason that the dealer puts an addendum on the vehicle containing these extra items is to get leverage in the negotiating process.


bait and switch is a common name for a tactic that a dealer might use to sell vehicles to customers. The underlying premise is and that they do whatever they have to do mostly through advertising, to get individuals to the dealership, in the door to look at a vehicle. This is the bait. They either advertise a car a set of cars a contest or other items to get the customer to the dealership. Once a customers is at the dealership they use their skills to have the customer purchasing another vehicle.

Payoff Trade

The dealer will tell you that they are paying the trade vehicle off when they are actually packing the payoff into the new lease or purchase.

Odometer Roll back

Many cars have the odometer rolled back, either with or without the knowledge of the dealership. There are state and also federal laws that prohibit this conduct and it creates a breach of warranty, violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, Federal Odometer Law. Odometer fraud costs consumers millions of dollars. Once you learn that your vehicle has an incorrect odometer when you sell you must disclose that the odometers and correct. This term is also known as TMU or total mileage unknown. When a vehicle has total mileage unknown you usually will get a approximately half of the market value had the odometer been correct.

Important Questions:  Questions for people who think they might be a victim of consumer fraud or a used car scam:


Purchasing a car can be hazardous to your wallet

Dealers sales people for the most part are trained sales experts and you need to understand this when attempting to purchase a car.  You need to be very cautious when researching and purchasing a car.

Here are some general rules you should follow when purchasing a car

Never step on a dealer lot without having completely researched the car you want to purchase.  NEVER.

Never step on a dealer lot alone.

Never step on the dealer lot when you are hungry or tired or with your children.  You will sign anything to get out of there!!!

Never purchase a car without having left the dealership at least one time in the negotiation process.

Make sure you have your own financing option available when you go the the dealer if you can!

Always have a used car inspected by your own mechanic.

Write down questions about the car before you buy the car.

Make sure you test drive the car for at least 1/2 hour.

If you go to the dealer with a friend NEVER let them separate you.

If the dealer promises something make sure it is in writing



The numbers are staggering.

In 2006 there were 16.5 million new cars sold in the United States. The average selling price of a new car was almost $28,000, and $16,000 for a used car. In New Jersey car revenues were 23 BILLION dollars, averaging over thirty nine MILLION per dealership. Most importantly, retail car sales account for almost 22% of all retail sales.

New and used car sales are BIG BUSINESS

Recently the auto industry has undergone quite a shakeup. The domestic auto industry has undergone a significant change due to long-term systemic problems and economic problems beyond its control. There has been a significant uptake in the used car sales industry for both micro and macro economic reasons. Consumers need to be as careful as ever. Many used car dealers are hurting and they will do almost anything to sell cars, any kind of car.

The auto industry is big money, with a lot of political clout. The selling of a car is a complicated process, one in which you have no real chance to be successful. It is an art: the art of the rip-off. They distract, delay, and confuse you in many ways. After a while you just sign the papers so you can leave the dealership. Does this sound familiar? It should. It occurs hundreds of times every day in every New Jersey county.

Years of litigation have revealed a host of well-rehearsed and unfortunately common practices.

The selling process is a science.  The entire process is set up to beat a customer down and to get a customer to buy anything, form advertising to closing a deal!!

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Can I cancel a contract for purchase?
Should I purchase a certified used car?
Should I use Carfax?
Do dealerships have a code of ethics?
What are my rights when a new car is sold with damage?
How do courts view the Consumer Fraud Act?
What are some insider secrets of car salesmen?
Should I file a complaint with the BBB?
What are the top consumer complaints in New Jersey?
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Is there an entire market in buying and selling damaged cars?
Do car dealers have disputes with their own employees?
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Can I access any public records?

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Ford Recalls.
Dealership ethic requirements.
Car salesman do have secrets.
Car repair scams.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
Do car salesman have code words?
Does the dealer have insurance and does it cover my claim?