What to Do if You think You’ve been Deceived by Car Scams

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Car scams are a big problem in the used car marketplace. There are a number of ways a buyer can be deceived in the process of buying a used car. CARFAX has partnered up with Schumacher & Partner to provide shoppers with advice on what to do if you think you've been cheated in a car buying scam. Keep reading to find out more!

Which Hidden Deficiencies Can Appear After the Car Purchase?

Car scams usually rely on gaining the buyer's trust and then keeping them in the dark about the true history of the vehicle. There are several types of hidden problems, which can be discovered by the buyer after the purchase has already been completed. Here is a list of some of the more common deficiencies:

  • Odometer Manipulation
  • Incorrectly Stated Year of Manufacture
  • Open Manufacturer Recalls
  • Total Damage
  • Frame Damage
  • And More…
car mileage

How Can I Find Out if Hidden Problems Exist?

While some forms of car scams are very difficult to detect, there are some tips and tricks to uncovering hidden problems with a vehicle. Some deficiencies are easier to find out, such as a vehicle's year of manufacture. One method is to look at 10th digit in the Vehicle Identification Number (often found by looking through the bottom of the driver's side of the windscreen). One can learn about open manufacturer recalls by checking one of the few online databases which post information on recalls (e.g. adac.de or kba.de).

More difficult to discover on your own are odometer manipulation and damage done to the vehicle from a crash, whether it's frame damage or an insurance write-off from total damage. One tip for analog odometer manipulation is to check if the numbers are all properly aligned in the odometer. For hidden vehicle damage, you can check between the gaps of the body panels, or inside of the doors to check if the vehicle has been repainted. Otherwise, it can help to have a full inspection by a properly trained professional mechanic.

How Should I Act Correctly When I Think I've Been Deceived by Car Scams?

If you think you’ve been cheated in car buying scams, you may be feeling helpless. Thankfully, you're not alone. There are many people who have had the similar experiences, and there are fraud lawyers dedicated to helping cheated shoppers. The following advice from fraud lawyers can help you prepare to take the next steps:

  • It is advisable to send a formal complaint, including all of the detected defects or deficiencies, to the seller by registered mail.
  • Obvious defects and other such abnormalities, which for example indicate a non-documented repair, should be photographed in order to better clarify the facts and the indicated defects.
  • Agreements relating to the purchase, especially when it comes to the condition of the vehicle, should always be recorded in writing. Since this often does not occur in the eagerness of the sales conversation, another person should always be present, who can attest to any of the seller’s statements.
  • Collect all relevant documentation in connection to the vehicle purchase, including, if possible, a written summary of the events that took place.

By following the above fraud lawyer tips, you may be in a better position in the case that you find yourself victim to one of the many possible car scams taking place in the used car marketplace today.

car owners

What Are the Responsibilities of the Buyer and Seller?

When dealing with car scams, in the case of material defects, the buyer has basic warranty rights, such as supplementary performance, purchase price reduction, withdrawal from the contract (which can be seen as a sort of used car return policy), and if applicable, any claims to damages.

The seller however, primarily has the right to remedy the defect itself, the so-called supplementary performance. For certain defects, such as an incorrectly stated year of manufacture or the (inapplicable) "accident-free" vehicle condition agreement, this supplementary performance is for practical reasons impossible, so here, reduction of purchase price or a withdrawal from the sales contract may be required.

What is the best way to proceed if I want to reverse the purchase?

Although used car scams are quite common, every case is different and there isn't a general used car return policy which applies to all situations. If you would like to reverse the purchase of a car, it is recommended you seek legal advice:

Volker Henn-Anschütz
Phone:  +49 (0) 211 863224-0
Email: p.schmieder@schumacherundpartner.de

Because of potential costs of any further action to the buyer, under certain circumstances such as a vehicle inspection, it is not advised to take further steps without seeking legal advice – especially if you plan to reverse the purchase.

If you feel you have fallen victim to one of the many car scams present in today’s used car marketplace, inform yourself about your rights by getting in touch with a fraud lawyer.

For more information regarding used car fraud and to have a free first-consultation regarding your rights, visit: www.betrug-beim-autokauf.de