Forgery and fraud regarding car contracts and credit applications happen more frequently than you might think. These crimes can place you in an undesirable contract with a car dealership that can be difficult to escape from without legal help. The consumer who can catch a fraud or forgery crime regarding the sale of a new or used car will have a strong case against the seller or dealership that committed the offense. If you or a family member was coerced into a fraudulent contract, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore car contract fraud attorney today.
At Whitney, LLP, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you discover and handle unethical and fraudulent car contracts and credit finance applications that you may have unknowingly entered into or been defrauded into. Our consumer attorneys have extensive experience handling a wide variety of consumer and car dealership fraud cases, and we are prepared to use that experience to handle your claim.
To begin your free legal consultation to discuss your car contract, call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000, or contact us online. Some of our prior auto fraud case results can be reviewed here: Auto Fraud and Forgery Case Results.
Common Methods Used to Forge a Car Contract
The primary reason a car dealership will risk committing fraud against a consumer is to increase the amount of money they earn on a particular contract. The commission-based compensation scheme of many car dealerships is typically the motivation behind employees’ attempting to defraud consumers. There are various ways that a car dealership can forge or alter a contract after the consumer has already purchased a vehicle.
When a person is buying a car from a dealership, they will typically negotiate the price of the car and other available add-ons with the finance manager. For example, after a buyer has agreed to purchase a vehicle, they may be offered additional products like a rear-view camera or special tires. The sale of add-ons can earn finance managers thousands of dollars, so the incentive to persuade customers into buying them is high. Unfortunately, some unethical managers and dealerships will attempt to charge you for add-ons that you did not purchase.
One way that a dealership will attempt to charge you for products you did not purchase is by altering the contract after you have signed it. Once the car price is agreed upon and you have chosen any additional protections you want, the finance manager should give you a copy of the contract and send the documents to the bank to finalize the contract. However, before sending the contract to the bank, the finance manager may first add terms to the contract that may increase your monthly payment and include services that you are not receiving. For example, you may be charged for dent and ding protection that will not cover you if your car has a dent.
Another typically used method is altering the purchase price of the vehicle or the purchase price of additional products. For example, a finance manager can increase the amount of a vehicle from $20,000 to $21,000 and forge your signature to the fraudulent contract before sending it to the bank. This increased amount may be unnoticeable to some consumers who did not carefully examine their contract.
To learn more about other methods used to commit car contract forgery, you should speak with an experienced car dealership fraud lawyer.
How to Discover a Fraudulent Vehicle Contract
There are some ways that a consumer can discover whether a car seller forged their signature to a contract. The first red flag that your vehicle contract may have been altered is if your monthly payments are different than the payments you originally agreed upon. Even if your monthly payment is just an extra few dollars, this amount can quickly add up over the years.
If your monthly payment is different or you suspect there is another issue with your contract, you should ask the dealership for the documents that you signed. The dealership has to send a signed copy of the contract to the bank to complete the sale. This means that the dealership will usually have the forged contract for their records while you possess the real contract.
If you believe the finance manager held onto a copy of the fraudulent contract and the real contract to continue to deceive you, you can contact the bank or the finance company and ask for a copy of the contract that was sent by the dealership. A quick review will show any different signatures and terms.
Credit Application Auto Finance Fraud
A common tactic of dishonest finance managers is to secretly inflate a consumer’s income and decrease their monthly residential rent payments on the credit application. By submitting a fraudulent credit application, a dealership can sell a vehicle to a consumer that the consumer cannot afford. As we all know, it is easy to get carried away at a car dealership with that beautiful new car right in front of you. But, when reality sets in when the payment is due, the problem of payment is not the dishonest dealership’s problem, it is now the consumer’s problem.
When this happens, the victim of the credit application fraud has serious legal rights, and may very well be able to return the vehicle and recover compensation for economic loss and emotional distress caused by the fraud.
Our Consumer Fraud Lawyers Can Help You File a Claim Against a Dishonest Car Dealership
If a dishonest car dealership deceived you or a family member with forgeries, fraud, or false information on a credit application, you should speak with an experienced Maryland consumer fraud lawyer today. At Whitney, LLP, our consumer protection lawyers can help you examine your car contract for fraud and help you file a claim against the car dealership or finance manager that deceived you. To schedule a free legal consultation, call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000, or contact us online using our Quick Contact forms.