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Over the past ten years, the FTC has brought more than 50 auto-related law enforcement actions. Despite these actions, deceptive advertising and unlawful add-on sales continue to cause people to spend thousands of dollars more on what’s already among the most expensive purchases of a lifetime.

The FTC is working to address deceptive advertising and unlawful add-on sales by considering changes to the law that would give the agency better tools to protect consumers and honest dealerships. Want to help? Submit a comment on the rulemaking and make your voice heard.

In 2020, the agency issued a staff report that highlights some of the challenges people face while buying and financing vehicles. The proposed rule seeks to address those issues and others the FTC has seen in its law enforcement actions. For example, some dishonest dealers advertise a great deal, then say the car isn’t available when you get to the dealership, and instead try to sell you a different vehicle at a different — usually higher — price. Sometimes, advertised prices might not include various fees and charges, which dealers only reveal when you arrive at the dealership. Dealers also may try to cram add-on charges by hiding them in the lengthy contract or through other deceptive means to increase your cost. The complex and lengthy process of buying or leasing a car, combined with actions by dishonest dealers, are reasons why the FTC got more than 100,000 complaints in each of the past several years on this topic.

If you have opinions, ideas, or experiences, you’d like to share about any of those issues, submit your comment on the proposed rule. All comments must be submitted online 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

6 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Michael Redmon
June 24, 2022

I'm glad I read your story up above on car dealerships, I used to get calls from my Cell Phone, until I got me another Ph. With this Cellular Ph: I've got right now. It give me, the wording: ("Scammer's Likely') on it. And most of the time I keep my Phone on "Silent Ringtone", so I don't get any unwanted calls. If I get anything in the mail,
concerning any kind of ("Dealerships") I won't open it up, I just Shred it up. So far, I haven't heard anything as of
yet. I'm lucky!. I just wanted to give you my "Comments" that I had.

Anne
June 24, 2022

Thank you for this information. I will be submitting a complaint regarding
a possible purchase.

Lloyd
July 01, 2022

50 actions over 10 years is hardly an accomplishment, but in all seriousness, if states don't toughen up licensing requirements, enforcement, penalties and jail time for these abuses as well as fraud, it really is immaterial. Individuals have learned to skirt these issues and continue to commit them all over again. Law enforcement is too slow to act and always citing that they have to build a big enough case.

Lorraine Blazevic
June 24, 2022

A big problem with dealer used car purchases is that instead of fixing a car and presenting it for sale as safe and drivable, they try to get you to buy a warranty and the car you purchase may have mechanical and safety issues. They are not up front with the issues or the reason for needing a warranty, and if you don't buy the warranty, you can end up with expensive repairs.

Chris Baird
June 24, 2022

given a written quote for a new vehicle in email but was not honored because the "manager did not approve it" after I got to the dealer. Bait and switch. A written quote for a specific vehicle should be binding.

Millard Frost
June 24, 2022

We drove a car at the dealership and decided to talk it over that night. the next day we accepted the offer and went to pick up the vehicle. After completing all the paperwork, we went out to get in the car - same model and color. We discovered that the car had over 1000 miles on the odometer whereas the car we drove the day before had less than 100. The sales manager was adamant that this was the same vehicle we had driven and there was no car on the lot with less than 100 miles. Bait and switch if you ask me!