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Welcome to the Civil Justice Blog.  The blog highlights current Maryland and/or federal law dealing with such topics as foreclosures, consumer rights, auto-fraud, and other related public interest issues.

Beware of the "Friendly" Used Car Dealer

Sep 20
Written by: Civil Justice
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

These words are now a common invitation to consumers from used car dealers.  As highlighted in a recent John Oliver LastWeek Tonight segment, there is an increasing trend among used car dealers to lure consumers with blemished credit into high-priced auto loans.  Because lower income individuals lack access to traditional financing options, they often have no choice but to buy from used car dealers, who are very willing to sell low quality, over-priced vehicles and use high interest loans to finance the purchases. This scenario frequently leads to the consumer not paying the loan and the car being  repossessed  -- which perpetuates the many problems and barriers faced by lower income individuals and keeps them dependent on high cost loan products.  

Many Consumers Struggle with Used Car Loans
Civil Justice frequently receives calls from individuals who are facing a lawsuit for thousands of dollars because they bought a used car that was eventually repossessed.  Like most of us, the individuals purchased cars because they needed a way to get to work or school and safe transportation for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the cars that the consumers purchase are overpriced, often need significant and costly repairs, and the car loans usually have high interest rates, excessive fees, and payments they cannot afford.  Often, the consumer stops paying, the car gets repossessed, and then the consumer is sued by the dealer or financing company.

ttorneys Can Help Consumers with Used Car Repossessions
When consumers are represented by attorneys in auto repossession cases, they are often able to prevent a judgment from being entered against them, and avoid all of the negative consequences that flow from a judgment (wage garnishments, bank account attachments, bad credit, etc.).  In addition, there are frequently affirmative claims that attorneys can raise on behalf consumers that allow the consumer to recover money and be made whole, after losing money on the car purchase.  Civil Justice attorneys are often able to take these cases without charging an up-front fee because of “fee-shifting” statutes – laws that allow prevailing consumers to recover their attorneys’ fees from the business that ripped them off. Civil Justice’s Auto Repossession Abuse Program helps find attorneys for individuals whose cars have been repossessed and are facing lawsuits.

How do you avoid being scammed by a used car dealer? 
If you or someone you know is planning to buy a used car check out the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition’s brochure How to Buy a Used Car Without Being Taken for a Ride.  

What if you have already been scammed? 

If you or someone you know has been ripped off by an unscrupulous car dealer or finance company, have had your car repossessed, or are being sued over an auto debt, contact Civil Justice’s intake line at 410-706-0174 or fill out our on-line intake form to see if we can help. 

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