Visiting a car dealership is not high on many people’s list of fun things to do. The salespeople at some car dealerships are paid on commission and might increase the pressure on customers in hopes that they’ll make a sale. Purchasing a vehicle you thought was terrific only to realize it has serious mechanical problems is beyond frustrating. If you’ve purchased a car that has turned out to be a lemon with lots of mechanical issues, you might think you’re out of luck. On the contrary, several laws give vehicle consumers a legal cause of action to fight against car dealership fraud in Northern Virginia.
The consumer law attorneys at Surovell, Issacs & Levy have over four decades of experience representing clients in the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. metro area. If you suspect a car dealership of engaging in fraud when they sold you your vehicle, we are here to help. Our attorneys have high levels of competence and integrity. We will assertively fight for your interests in resolving car dealership fraud and lemon law disputes.
Car Dealerships Must Clearly Explain The Terms Of Financing Agreements
Car dealerships have been known to use bait and switch tactics when it comes to vehicle financing. Some even issue predatory car loans. For example, the dealership might make a specific financing offer. In response, you pay the down payment on the vehicle and accept the offer. Once you’ve signed the agreement, the dealership might say that they can’t secure the low financing rate they promised. Instead, the dealership might give you a much higher interest rate. Instead of securing the low-interest rate they guaranteed, they threaten to take the vehicle and your down payment back if you don’t comply with the new arrangement.
What Recourse Do Consumers Have Against Car Dealership Fraud?
The federal Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) requires lenders who offer financing to use precise terms when informing the borrower about the cost of the loan. Car dealerships who do not provide clear information about the loan costs likely commit fraud under the law.
The car dealership lending statement must include a TILA disclosure that consists of the following:
- The TILA disclosure must state the annual percentage rate or APR. The APR is defined as the cost of the credit set forth as a yearly rate rather than just a percentage.
- The TILA disclosure must state the total finance charges to include the total amount of fees and interest you will pay over the course of the loan.
- The TILA disclosure must clearly state the total amount of money you are borrowing.
- The TILA disclosure must clearly state the sum of all payments the customer will have made at the end of the loan term. The agreement must state the total amount of principal that the customer will repay and the total amount of finance charges.
- The TILA disclosure must state the amount of the monthly payments and any late fees amounts.
- The TILA disclosure must state the total number of payments along with the date that each payment is due monthly.
Auto dealerships must give customers a written TILA disclosure form before the signing of the loan contract. If you’re a customer, do not sign the contract before you review and understand the terms of the TILA agreement. It is wise to ask the dealership for an extra copy of the TILA disclosure to take home with you. If dealerships refuse to give you a copy of the TILA disclosure, they are likely committed car dealership fraud under federal law.
The Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act
Car dealerships are known for using fraudulent tactics to sell cars. The Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, also known as the Virginia Lemon Law, requires car manufacturers to refund consumers or replace a vehicle that has significant problems.
A “lemon” is a vehicle purchased in Virginia that has problems that significantly impair the safety, value, or use of the car. To qualify as a lemon, the dealer must fail to correct the vehicle’s issues within three or more attempts at repairing the vehicle. Or, the vehicle must have been unusable to the driver for thirty or more days in a year.
Usually, this law applies to new cars purchased at a dealership but can apply to used cars in some circumstances. If you bought a vehicle with significant issues, it is wise to contact the capable Northern Virginia lemon law attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC. You only have 18 months to file a claim under the Lemon Law, so it’s best to get started as soon as possible.
Car Dealership Fraud in Fairfax County, Virginia
Most fraudulent sales activity at car dealerships falls into two different categories.
A non-disclosure happens when a car salesperson withholds pertinent information about the vehicle from the purchaser. Perhaps the salesperson does not tell the customer that the vehicle used to be a rental car, that the car has hidden damage, or was involved in a car accident.
Sometimes auto dealership salespeople straight out lie to customers. Perhaps they tell the customer a used car is new. They may state that a car is a certified pre-owned car when the car is not. Sometimes dealerships will indicate that a vehicle costs one amount and then increase the price in the sales contract without notifying the customer.
We Help You Fight Against Car Dealership Fraud
If a car dealer engaged in fraud when selling you a vehicle, you might have a legal claim under Virginia tort law. To succeed, you will need to demonstrate that the dealer misrepresented or omitted material facts and that this caused you to endure financial loss. You must prove that, but for the dealership omitting or misrepresenting material facts, you would not have purchased the vehicle in question. If successful, you could receive significant damages in the form of compensation from the dealership. A court may order a dealership to refund you for all costs associated with the vehicle. You may be able to recuperate any costs associated with wrongful possession along with any outstanding loan balances. If the dealership acted in a particularly corrupt way, a court may also award punitive damages.
If you’re the victim of car dealership fraud, don’t delay in contacting the Fairfax, Virginia consumer law attorneys at Surovell, Issacs & Levy today. We will work to fight for your interests. Whether you need to file a lemon law claim or a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation, our skilled attorneys are here to help. Many laws have statutes of limitations, so don’t delay, contact us to set up your initial compensation today.