Auto Fraud is a very big problem facing South Carolinians. Auto Fraud can be tricky to understand. That is why we are going to explain some of your rights when it comes to Auto Fraud.
Let’s talk about some important federal laws that you should know. The Federal Odometer Act says it is against the law to mess with a car’s odometer (that thing that counts miles). Another important law is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This act makes it illegal for an auto supplier to go against a warranty. So, let’s say you had damage to your car and had it under warranty. This law pretty much makes it so that the person who sold you the car has to honor that warranty no matter what. Another good one to know is the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). TILA makes lenders tell you their interest rates before processing a loan. This Act can help a customer shop around for a better rate. If a lender does not tell a person the rate before processing the loan, that person would have a legal claim.
As far as State Law goes, there are a few more laws that might be helpful for you to know! Every state has its own repossession laws. These laws are rules for how repossession should happen if needed. For example, every state has its own Lemon Law. South Carolina’s Lemon Law protects people if they buy a new car, and something is wrong with it. A “lemon” car is a car that follows three conditions. The problem has to show up within the first 12 months or 12000 miles of use. The problem also has caused significant problems with use, such as safety issues. The problem also has to be one that the dealer cannot fix in a reasonable amount of time. A reasonable amount of time is either three attempts to fix it or a 30-day period when the person cannot use the car. If the problem matches those conditions, it is a “Lemon.” If a car is a lemon, then the manufacturer has to either fix, replace, or refund the car. It is important to know that if abuse causes the problem, it cannot be a lemon.
Another law that is much easier to understand is the S.C. Dealers and Distributors Act. This act protects you from unfair actions like false advertising when you buy a car.
Here are some common problems that South Carolina Legal Services might be able to help you with!
1. You bought a car, and it turned out to be a lemon car.
2. You were the victim of a YoYo sale. A YoYo sale is when a dealer gives you a contract but then asks you to come back to the dealership to sign a worse contract. They might do this by raising the interest rate or asking for a larger downpayment.
3. False Advertising. This is when a dealer lures you to the dealership with a great deal, then tells you that that deal is not available.
4. Finance problems. This is when a dealer undervalues a trade-in or inflates the price of the new car.
5. Repossession. The first time you miss a payment on a vehicle, the creditor has to send you a notice that you are more than ten days late. This notice is what we call a “right to cure” notice. But they do not have to send another one after the first notice. That means that it is very important to be on time with your payments. It is especially important to be on time if you have already gotten a notice in the past.
Let’s also take some time to get to know how warranties work. There are two types of warranties.
The first type of warranty is an express warranty. This is a written or spoken agreement about whatever the customer is buying. These are most often written. A dealer would make an express warranty by describing the car to you. Let’s say a contract says that the car is a 2023 Infiniti, but they give you a 1995 Honda Civic. In that case, they have broken an express warranty.
The second type of warranty is the implied warranty. This type of warranty applies to the sale and covers things you can assume about a car. This type of warranty means that a car has to do what the dealer says it will do. For example, if you wanted a car with high horsepower, and the dealer sold you a car that had low horsepower. In other words, a car has to do what it is supposed to do.
Make sure you always read contracts and pay attention to any warranty disclaimers. Warranty Disclaimers are parts of an agreement that a dealer puts in there to try to keep from giving a warranty.
Finally, make sure you don’t keep your documents inside your car! If you do want to keep the documents from your car purchase in your car, make sure to make copies! If your car gets repossessed or taken, you will need the documents from your purchase.
If you want more information on Auto Fraud, contact South Carolina Legal Services!