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How to spot auto loan fraud Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our mission is to help you make better financial choices by providing you with interactive financial calculators and tools as well as publishing original and objective content. We also allow you to conduct research and compare information at no cost – so you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The products that are featured on this website come from companies that pay us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on the site, such as for instance, the sequence in which they appear within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law. This applies to our loans, mortgages,, or other home loan products. However, this compensation will have no impact on the content we publish or the reviews appear on this website. We do not contain the vast array of companies or financial deals that may be accessible to you.

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4 min read Published February 28, 2023

Written by TJ Porter. Written by Contributing writer

TJ Porter is a contributing writer for Bankrate with over eight years of experience in writing about financial matters. TJ writes on a variety of topics, ranging from .

Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances by providing clear, well-researched facts that break down complicated subjects into digestible pieces.

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When scammers targeted homeowners in the downturn in housing prices, car loan frauds are now starting to draw the attention of watchdogs from government agencies. The scams vary from illegal financing tricks that force consumers into unfavorable financing agreements to deceptive negative equity deals which leave customers with greater automobile loan debt than they expected. Often scammers target car owners who need to catch up on their payments and want to avoid getting their cars confiscated. These scams can be costly, so understand the signs to watch out for. The scam of car loan Modification scams A loan modification scam is a fraud that is designed to steal your money without offering any service. Scammers for car loan modification scammers offer to lower your car loan payments. In exchange for helping you accomplish their goal, scammers will charge an astronomical amount upfront. Scammers typically ask for charges upfront or other unusual methods of payment. They might also force you to sign an agreement, and they will usually ignore checking your credit score. The scammers might advise you to stop making auto loan payments while they “negotiate” with your lender. It’s also not unusual for scammers to ask for more money in exchange for their so-called efforts on your case. And in some cases the scam firm may ask you to make payments on your car directly to them instead of your lender. “The scams are similar to those of mortgage loan modification scams, with the scammers claiming that they could keep their vehicle from being repossessing and they can reduce their monthly payment,” says Gregory Ashe is a senior attorney in the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. Repossession can occur after just two or three months of non-payment. The longer you delay making the call, the fewer options you have. “Auto lenders aren’t typically lowering interest rates or reducing the principal balance on a car,” Ashe says. “If any relief is to be obtained, it’s generally to extend the duration of the loan to lower your monthly payments , or to postpone payments due to late payments until the close term of loan. There will be a higher cost over the life of the loan and there’s no savings in the long run -however at least you’re given an opportunity to make car payment.” How to avoid

To ensure that you do not fall subject of a vehicle loan modification scam, the FTC recommends that you do so as immediately as you can tell you are susceptible to being a victim. Also, avoid false promises of lower vehicle payments from shady companies.

Yo-yo financing scams A advertises a low interest rate to the buyer, only to yank it back to make the already committed buyer sign a contract with less favorable conditions. This is how it works. A car dealer entices buyers to believe the financing is complete, accepts a trade-in or an offer for a down payment, and then allows the buyer to leave the dealership with a new vehicle. A few days or even weeks later, the dealer calls the buyer to inform him that the financing was not able to be completed. The buyer will have to come back to sign a new contract usually with less favorable terms. Sometimes, the dealership is already selling the trade-in vehicle which leaves the buyer to select between higher rates or none at all. These scams often target consumers with fewer financing options because they do not have . Yo-yo financing is prohibited in every state, says Paul D. Metrey, senior vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Automobile Dealers Association in McLean, Virginia. However, there are spots and sales with conditional terms that are completely legal. The FTC is currently working on a rule for dealers in the automotive industry that contains language to protect consumers from frauds involving yo-yo loans. If it is enacted, the rule would prevent dealers from misrepresenting what the transaction actually completed. What can you do to prevent

To avoid being a victim of a yoyo scam Buyers can go to the dealer with a secured credit card ahead of time. It is likely that you will get the best interest rate by using a bank or credit union that you already have an account. Additionally, coming in with financing already locked down can give you .

Negative equity scams The FTC has instituted administrative proceedings to address Truth in Lending Act violations in the way that dealers handled negative equity. The dealers did not clearly explain to customers that even though they promised to “pay off” the balance due through a trade-in transaction but they actually took that negative equity and applied it to the new vehicle loan balance. Many customers complained that they didn’t realize that until they signed their new auto financing paperwork. “Consumers need to carefully study the documents before they sign it, since it doesn’t matter how it’s written. It’s what’s written,” Ashe says. “If you don’t understand something, don’t sign it.” What can you do to stay clear of

If you go through your loan documents, make sure to confirm that the loan amount is the amount you agreed to pay. If you find additional charges you aren’t sure about, ask the finance department at the dealership to explain these to you. Your trade-in should be treated as a distinct transaction. Although you may choose to into an existing loan, the dealer needs to explain how this affects the loan.

The loan packing dealer may make you feel pressured to or provide services when buying the car. These might include an extended warranty, tire rotation, rustproofing and service agreements. While some of these items may be beneficial, the majority are not. The main goal of the seller at this point is to get you to pay more. But remember that you are in no way bound to any additional items. If some of the options are appealing to you, you can try to negotiate the price for the extra product just like you discuss the price of the car itself. Remember, when it’s added to the loan, you’re paying interest on it. How can you avoid it?

Explore the options available and then see what you can do on your own or in a different shop. It is possible that you can find the products or services at less cost and of superior quality without having to wrap the costs into the loan.

The most important thing to remember is that loan modification scams target vulnerable buyers who are not creditworthy or have a history of late payments. If the offer sounds too appealing to be true then it probably is. If you’re struggling to pay your loan, the best way to resolve the issue is talk to the lender directly. Lenders will often be willing to collaborate with you if they can prove that you’re doing your best to continue making payments.

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Written by the writer who contributed to the article.

TJ Porter is a contributor writer for Bankrate with over eight years of experience writing about finance. TJ writes about a wide range of subjects, including .

The edit was done by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping their readers feel confident to manage their finances with concise, well-researched and well-written data that breaks complex topics into manageable bites.

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