Shopping for a car can be exciting. But wading through ads and promotions from car dealers, and deciding how to pay, can make it stressful.
If you decide to finance the car, you have two options: Get a loan from a bank, credit union or finance company, or get dealership financing. Either way, the financing application requires an honest listing of your monthly income and the amount of your down payment.
But not all dealers play by the rules. In a case announced Aug. 1, the FTC alleged that Tate’s Auto Center of Winslow, Inc. — as well as related dealerships in Arizona and New Mexico and their owner and manager, Richard Berry — used deceptive advertising to get people in the door, failed to disclose required financing terms and frequently falsified consumers’ income and down payment information in an effort to close the deal. Instead of using the income information people gave, Tate’s often inflated numbers to make it look like people had higher monthly incomes.
The next time you’re deciding how to pay for a new set of wheels, take your time.
Carefully read the documents, especially the credit or lease contract.
Ask to review your final financing application. Make sure it shows your real income, down payment and other personal information.
Be sure all the terms, including the price and the financing, are what you agreed to. Understand them before you sign.
- – By Colleen Tressler, a consumer education specialist with the Federal Trade Commission.