Auto Warranty Scams

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An auto warranty is a contract which covers the costs of repairing mechanical problems and breakdowns in a vehicle after the manufacturer's warranty has expired.  People usually purchase extended warranties in order to avoid the cost of unexpected vehicle repairs.

Identifying an Auto Warranty Scam

In recent years, extended warranty fraud has become a huge problem.  The crooks behind these schemes often give the impression that they work for the car dealer or manufacturer and create a sense of urgency by telling consumers that the warranty on their vehicle is about to expire. 

Auto warranty telemarketing schemes have increased significantly.  In the typical auto warranty telemarketing scheme, the fraudster typically uses high-pressure tactics and makes demands for personal information. 

Scammers may also solicit consumers by mail.  Beware of mail that contains phrases like “Motor Vehicle Notification”, “Final Warranty Notification”, “Notice of Service Interruption”, and other similar phrases.  Other warning signs of a extended warranty fraud include:

  • Offers of complete vehicle coverage with no limitation on mileage or coverage period;
  • Offers from companies located in foreign countries;
  • Requirement that all repair costs be paid in advance with a promise of reimbursement in the future;
  • No limitation on the auto repair garages that may be used.

Avoiding Auto Warranty Scams

You can avoid auto and truck warranty scams and car dealer scams by being proactive and following a few easy tips.

  • Research and investigate the company responsible for paying claims (often referred to as the claims administrator or contract service provider) and verify that the contract administrator is licensed in your state.  You can also determine whether any complaints have been filed against the company by checking with the Better Business Bureau or the Office of the Attorney General in your state.
  • Check references by contacting three or four participating repair shops.
  • Visit at least one shop to verify that the coverage would be accepted.  While there, make sure that their license is posted where customers can easily see it.

Legal Help for Consumers

If you have been the victim of an auto or truck warranty scam or a car dealer scam, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  Although the FTC does not investigate individual complaints, it does compile information and look for patterns of misconduct which may lead to criminal and civil prosecution of wrongdoers.

Once you've filed a complaint with the FTC, you should contact a consumer protection attorney.  A qualified consumer protection attorney will investigate your case to determine whether you have a valid cause of action and will recommend the best course of action to seek redress against the scam artist. 

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