Car Scams That Seniors Need to Watch Out For
Consumers who buy new cars are protected to some extent by laws like the California car lemon law. However, it is up to individual motorists buying cars to watch out for scams that could lead to financial loss. While any car buyer could potentially be vulnerable to falling victim to a scam, seniors are an especially at-risk population because they are frequently targeted by scammers.
Just recently, CheatSheet published a comprehensive guide to some of the worst car scams that older car shoppers need to be aware of so they don't end up losing their money in a vehicle purchase transaction.
Watch Out For These Scams
According to CheatSheet, the key scams that seniors need to watch out for include:
- Oil changes that are more frequently than necessary: Seniors drive less than people in most other age groups, so they don't need to get their oil changed as often. Sometimes, however, mechanics will tell seniors they need their oil changed every few months and will try to sell seniors an extra quart of oil. Seniors should watch the mileage on their cars and follow manufacturer instructions for how often to get the oil changed.
- Changing auto sales contracts: Some car dealers make promises to seniors of bargain leases or low interest financing but then change the terms of the contract when seniors actually sign and drive away. The car salesmen may then try to play it off as the senior having fuzzy memory or having heard him wrong about the offer terms.
- Repossession scams: Car dealers sell cars to people who can't possible afford them, arranging financing even though seniors don't have the ability to repay the loans. The cars end up being repossessed, ruining the credit of senior buyers and putting the senior who bought the vehicle into debt.
- Tricking seniors into unnecessary repairs: Mechanics may tell seniors that there are serious problems with their car and that costly repairs are needed, even when this isn't necessarily the truth. Some mechanics have been caught charging hundreds of dollars for costly repairs when the only thing wrong was one unplugged cord.
- Craigslist scams: Seniors who are selling cars can be scammed by fake Craiglist buyers who claim they have sent money via Paypal and who send fake emails from Paypal that show a payment has been made when it actually hasn't.
- Cheap parts scams: Seniors may pay for premium parts when a vehicle is repaired, but the repairs will actually be done with cheap generic parts that may not perform as well and that cost the mechanic a lot less to buy.
Seniors should only deal with trusted mechanics, should consider getting a second opinion, and should be careful with Craigslist and dealer transactions to avoid these scams. Seniors also need to know the California car lemon law if they purchase new vehicles and if a car they buy turns out to have defects they should contact an experienced attorney for help as soon as possible.