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Arizona Consumer Fraud / Consumer Protection Law

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What is Auto Fraud?

Auto fraud in Arizona can be classified by a number of behaviors. The actions of an automobile dealership may constitute fraud if the dealer fails to disclose certain information about the vehicle including but not limited to the true condition of the vehicle, the true ownership history of the vehicle or the actual mileage of the vehicle. Fraud could also mean a dealer lets a customer take delivery of a vehicle before getting financing with the intention of getting financing but then refusing to return the customer’s down payment or trade-in after failing to get financing.

Below are some of the varieties of fraud that may occur:

  • ODOMETER FRAUD– If the number of miles appearing on the odometer when the car is purchased does not accurately represent the mileage of the vehicle, it may be a case of odometer fraud. If the odometer has been turned back causing a misrepresentation of accurate mileage to the customer, the dealer has committed odometer fraud.
  • VEHICLES WITH PRIOR DAMAGE– There are dealerships which sell vehicles with prior damage that have been wrecked and poorly rebuilt. These can lead to safety concerns for the owner. Often, these vehicles have been fixed to look good on the outside but function poorly.

    A car dealer has the legal responsibility to disclose information such as the vehicle having a salvage title or the vehicle has been involved in a prior accident (to the best of their knowledge) before the purchase of a vehicle takes place.

    Before purchasing a vehicle, you should inspect the vehicle for the following:

    • Paint that matches inside & outside of the door frame;
    • Auto parts line up with one another and spaces between connecting parts such as the hood, trunk and doors are straight;
    • Watermarks, mud or dirt under mats in the trunk that may be a sign of water damage from flooding; and
    • Car titles from out-of-state

VEHICLE HISTORY

Withholding information from the purchaser of a vehicle at time of purchase can constitute fraud. This is considered a misrepresentation of your vehicle’s history. The purchaser of the vehicle has the right to know the vehicle’s complete history. Failure to disclose this information if requested, is deception.

RENTAL VEHICLES, EXECUTIVE DRIVEN VEHICLES

In some cases a consumer will purchase a vehicle under the pretense that the car was only owned and driven by a sole vehicle owner. However, you may later discover that the vehicle has many problems due to wear and tear on the vehicle, because it was used for rental purposes.

PREVENT FRAUD WITH THESE TIPS

  • Check the vehicle to see if the condition of the vehicle matches the mileage on the odometer—crooked or misaligned numbers on odometer gauges may be a sign of tampering.
  • Check for fresh paint as it may be there to mask old parts.
  • Look for maintenance and oil change stickers that can shed light on the actual mileage of the vehicle.
  • Avoid vehicles that are advertised as a “part of a fleet”.
  • Be sure to obtain a written statement of the actual mileage on the odometer at time of purchase.
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