Most Outrageous Dealer Scam: Switching Paperwork
Usually, these errors will favor the dealer by a few hundred dollars (big surprise!). It could be the price of the vehicle is wrong, or the trade-in allowance is understated, or perhaps the interest rate on the loan is slightly higher.
A scumbag dealer making a profit of $200 on each "mistake" can easily add $20,000 to his bottom line each month. Now you see why these "mistakes" happen so often.
Make sure ALL the information in your Purchase Order matches the prices and terms you agreed to before signing.
If you catch a mistake, the dealer will just say "Oh, we're so sorry, our mistake!". It's a frustrating situation because you can't really prove whether it was a true mistake or just an attempt at stealing your money.
Some dealers actually go way beyond this if they feel they can get away with it. They usually target car shoppers that are more susceptible to being ripped off, such as the elderly, minorities, and people with bad credit.
We've heard of cases where dealers scam people out of thousands of dollars after switching the paperwork. The most outrageous ones will even switch a car purchase into a lease without the customer realizing it.
The monthly payments may look the same, but the customer is in store for a huge headache down the line.
Dealers get away with it because many consumers are careless when signing the paperwork. They're presented with a bunch of papers to sign, and by the time the Purchase Order comes around, they're impatient to get the deal over with so they sign without realizing the switch.
If you complain afterwards, the dealer can show you paperwork stating you've read all the terms and agree to everything with your signature.
It's easy to prevent this scam as long as you are careful looking over all the documents you sign.
My Recommendation for Car ShoppersTrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
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About: Gregg Fidan
Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.