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Protect Yourself from Common Dealer Scams

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Portland is a city recognized as one of the country’s leaders in terms of transit. Interestingly, the place deemed as a transit success story actually has residents that prefer driving alone to work rather than taking public transportation. According to a 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Commuting Survey, 80.6 percent of those who work in the Portland area go by car and 71.2 percent drive alone.

If most commuters prefer to drive, surely many people aim to have their own automobiles. Unfortunately, the car buying process is fraught with challenges. Often what makes most customers apprehensive about the transaction are the scams. If you will be buying a car soon, be wary of the following scams:

Yo-yo financing: This is probably the most common dealer scam. The dealer lets the buyer drive home with the car, with the latter thinking that the deal was closed. Sometime after the car was driven home, the dealer will contact the buyer and say that the financing fell through. The buyer is given the option to either return the car or pay extra. Protect yourself from this scam by getting financing before heading to the dealership. If you must get financing from a dealer, read the contract carefully and make sure there is no clause that says the financing is pending approval and that you are required to return the car if it fell through.

Deceptive advertising: Some dealers trick consumers with advertising. They post an ad where the details seem too good to be true because they really are. They promote attractive price offers, but in reality, only one car is offered at the given price. When you walk into the lot, you will see the same advertised vehicle at a different color and it comes with a different price. In order not to fall prey to such scam, read the fine print and contact the dealer to check the availability and price of the vehicle you like before visiting the dealership.

Credit theft: There are dealers that pull the credit reports of even those car buyers who already have financing. Know that they are prohibited by federal law to pull your report without your permission. Some dealers are brazen enough to take out several loans under the name of the consumer for a single car. Refuse to fill out a credit information form if you already have a pre-approved loan and pull your credit after you bought the car to see if any other loans were taken out under your name.

Upfront fees: Many dealers take advantage of car buyers with bad credit by charging unnecessary fees. Some mark up their prices after they find out the shopper has weak credit. While those with bad credit are really charged with higher interest, they shouldn’t be charged with exorbitant upfront fees. Check your credit before you start car shopping and don’t sign anything unless you have read the entire document.

Selling salvaged or damaged cars: Unscrupulous dealers make a wrecked or damaged vehicle look great on the outside, then sell it ‘as is’ for full price. Shoppers who don’t know better purchase the car only to be surprised by serious flaws later on. You can avoid bringing home a lemon by having a trustworthy mechanic check the vehicle before you buy it. The mechanic will tell you what repairs have been done, if there are any. During the test drive, see if all the equipment function well.

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