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It’s unfair and illegal to increase the amount someone ends up paying to buy or lease a car based on their race or how they look. But that’s how the FTC says a group of three auto dealerships in Rhinelander, Wisconsin allegedly overcharged some of their customers. Read on to learn more about the case — and what you can do to get a fair deal when buying a car.

According to the FTC and the State of Wisconsin, the Rhinelander dealerships unfairly and illegally charged American Indians hundreds or even thousands more in costs than non-Latino White customers. The dealerships also piled on charges for add-ons like optional gap insurance policies and service plans that were spread over time, making it hard for customers to spot. And in some cases, the FTC says the Rhinelander dealerships falsely told their buyers that the add-ons were required to buy or finance the car.

Now the Rhinelander dealerships and their general manager will have to stop these allegedly discriminatory and illegal practices and pay $1.1 million to reimburse customers who paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars more in financing costs and add-on charges.

Some illegal tactics are hard to spot, but here’s how to avoid overpaying for a car.

  • Shop around for financing. Dealership financing often comes with marked-up interest rates. It’s not your only option. Start with banks, credit unions, and other financing companies. Get pre-approved and use that offer to negotiate with the dealer.
  • Read the sales contract and financing agreement carefully. Make sure the terms you agreed on match what is in the contract. Get answers about any extra fees you don’t recognize or want.
  • Walk away if you’re not getting what was promised. You don’t have to take the deal if you’re not satisfied.

Learn more about your rights when buying or financing at If you believe a dealership discriminated against you or charged hidden fees, please file a report at

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Al Cardenas
October 25, 2023

I'm really happy to see that these crooks are getting caught. I just don't how they can sleep.

October 25, 2023

I’m a female and I feel like I was overcharged. And Kentucky they charged me over 43,000 for a 2018 dodge ram big horn which I found out later had a recall and I ended up paying over 4000 to get it fixed. Talk about ripped off.

Kathy Bryson
October 26, 2023

In reply to by Nonad

So sorry to read this but I think that car sellers frequently pad the bill for women car buyers, because we are not sure is legit when totalling up the bill that we pay.
I feel a similar thing happened to me when I paid cash for my Prius.

October 30, 2023

In reply to by Nonad

I have never had to pay for a recalled part to be fixed on one of my vehicles. Was there something else that had to be fixed, or was it the recalled part?

Walicia Cole
October 25, 2023

That’s certainly untrue, because I’m overcharged on a false rumor that I’m in with the Illuminati, and I don’t know who started that. So much do that I don’t have any friends any more, family distanced themselves. can’t get a job, and the State wrote new laws that took my disability. I be struggling at the end of the month sometimes, and after my daughter goes to college, ……… I face challlenges every day because I speak up for myself. I’ve worked for mine. I don’t owe nobody nothing.

Beverly L. Smith
October 25, 2023

I do agree that some of the car dealerships have overpriced cars and that's why some cars sit so long. I know from experience recently from car shopping. As far as I'm concerned they're cars can sit and rust. Fortunately I found an honest dealership.

October 25, 2023

That is a d*** shame. You just can't trust anybody anymore.
They need to be put in prison for that.

Al Hartman
October 25, 2023

I read all your posts. Thanks for the information!

David L Boyden
October 26, 2023

As a Certified Fraud Examiner, I have helped unwind "packed" car sales to young and old individuals. It was disappointing to see that Florida, NC & WI all are not consumer friendly.
Chevy dealer in Madison, WI tried to sell my 83-year-old mom $5,000 of additional warranties, tire & paint protection & service plans. her 2018 Chevy Spark (great car) has 5.000 miles, I change the oil every year. Dealer even tried to charge us full sticker price when GM Corporate was advertising a national 20% off deal on all Sparks.

Reno Warner
October 27, 2023

Go back to getting my phone mail to me

Dr. Z.
October 27, 2023

What about those "dealers" that add those sneaky fees about "etching" on the windows? How can they be "called on the mat?"

Genish Terry
November 13, 2023

In July of 2021, I purchased a Brand New Honda CR-V from Curry Honda, in Chamblee, Georgia, and not only did I pay them cash (Over $37,000.00 dollars) but, unbeknownst to me, they also, added a warranty on the Car for around $3,000.00 dollars, at 11% interests. Image buying a warranty on a brand new car that you paid cash for at 11% interest. Shame on Curry Honda,..

s. Williams
November 30, 2023

This was very helpful.

Dastin Kartoum
December 08, 2023

I visited a car dealership and the generals manager told the sales person I was not eligible for a test drive without me ever asking for one.