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PART 1 OF 3: Car Buyers — Beware of ‘Non-Disclosure Disclosure’

Few professions in the U.S. are held in lower regard than car salespeople — particularly used car salespeople. While the vast majority are honest professionals with integrity, the stereotype of the slick salesman giving deceitful answers to questions from potential buyers did not come from nowhere. Despite the numerous state, federal, and common law protections afforded to car buyers, there are still plenty of auto dealerships that use and encourage deceptive practices just to move inventory. 

In at least one class-action lawsuit, a U.S. District Court Judge used the term “non-disclosure disclosure” to describe a practice of not giving buyers the full truth about a used car’s history. Of particular concern to car buyers is a vehicle’s prior involvement in collisions or anything that might cause damage to its frame or underlying structure. Other times, salespeople might gloss over or conveniently “forget” to mention safety-related recalls (think airbags manufactured by the now-defunct Takata Corporation). 

What Does a Dealership Have to Disclose to You?

The specifics of what a dealership or salesperson must tell you before you buy a used car differs slightly depending on your jurisdiction. No matter where you purchase a used car, there should be a form or section on a form that requires the seller to disclose prior accidents. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a “Used Car Rule” that applies to any dealerships that sell more than five used cars in a 12-month period. 

One of the most important tools for consumers in the Used Car Rule is the requirement for dealers to provide a Buyers Guide. Besides detailing the various warranties that might attach to a particular car, the Guide can give you important information on accessing important information on a particular vehicle. 

So, What Exactly is Non-Disclosure Disclosure?

The generally accepted description of non-disclosure disclosure has to do with the dealer supplying information to a prospective buyer in a discreet manner. For instance, a detailing of accidents a car has been involved in might be included in small print at the bottom of a page instead of being placed where the buyer would notice. Another way a salesperson could participate in non-disclosure disclosure would be downplaying the severity of a previous accident if a prospective buyer asks. 

Check Back For More on Non-Disclosure Disclosure

Dealership and salespeople are getting more efficient at downplaying issues with used vehicles. Bell Law has seen countless cases of dishonest car dealers whose only concern is padding their bottom line. Next month, we’ll provide real-life examples of non-disclosure disclosure to illustrate the severity of the issue. In the meantime, please reach out to our team for a free consultation if you feel like you’ve been wronged by a car dealership or other company. 

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