Auto Fraud

A car loses half its value, the saying goes, as soon as you drive it off the lot. That may not be a scientific figure, but cars certainly start to lose value and gain problems the moment someone starts driving them. When purchasing a new car, consumers have a near-infinite range of issues to consider, including price, safety, size, and reliability. Used cars have unique histories that present consumers with even more challenges, such as accident damage, replaced parts, or fraudulent title. Possibilities for fraud exist for both new and used car sales. Laws at the state and federal level, known as “lemon laws” protect consumers from fraudulent practices in car sales. If you think you have purchased a “lemon,” a Chicago auto fraud lawyer with knowledge of lemon laws can help you understand your rights and recover the remedies owed to you.

Lemon Laws and Other Auto Fraud Protections

Illinois’ New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act, commonly known as the “Lemon Law,” protects buyers of new cars in the state. “New” refers to cars during the first twelve months after purchase or up to 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. The law covers any new car with a defect that (1) affects its value, safety, or usefulness, and (2) cannot be repaired by the dealer or manufacturer after at least four tries. It also applies to new cars that are out of service for at least thirty days. It does not apply to used cars.

Purchasers of used cars may have rights under consumer protection and deceptive trade practice statutes, which allow causes of action for breaches of certain express and implied warranties. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects consumers against misuse or abuse of warranties and disclaimers by merchants, including car dealers. The implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose typically provide that a used car will at least meet the basic standards of a useable vehicle.

Types of Auto Fraud

The following are just a few of the types of auto fraud consumers may encounter:

  • Undisclosed or misrepresented history. Any failure to disclose prior use as a rental car, or any deliberate misrepresentation of prior ownership or accident damage.
  • Title fraud. Intentional misrepresentation of a car’s ownership history.
  • Odometer fraud. Setting the numbers on a car’s odometer back to make it appear more valuable.
  • Accident damage. Failure to disclose accident damage to a new vehicle, such as damage in the factory or at the dealership.
  • Salvage fraud. Failure to disclose prior damage resulting in an insurer’s declaration that the car is a total loss.
  • Buyback fraud. Failure to disclose that a vehicle was part of a lemon law buyback program.

Consumers’ Rights

Many state lemon laws require submission of a dispute to an arbitration board, which is like a less-formal court system. The board can order a seller to provide the consumer with a replacement or similar vehicle, or to buy the vehicle back from the consumer. Consumer protection, deceptive trade practice, and warranty statutes often allow recovery of actual damages, as well as double or treble damages in some instances.

Based in the Chicago area, the auto fraud lawyers at Nationwide Consumer Rights have dedicated our practice to helping consumers around the country. We bring decades of experience at litigating for the rights of people who have suffered damages and losses due to automobile fraud by used and new car dealers and others. Please contact us online or at 630-333-0000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Chicago auto fraud attorneys.

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