Consumers for Auto
Reliability and Safety ®

Where to Complain

Cheated by a shady auto dealer? Scammed over auto financing?
You have lots of company.
Year after year, auto dealers and auto sales rank #1 in consumer complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies and the Better Business Bureau. Usually, the agencies are so overwhelmed by complaints they don't have enough resources or staff to handle them all.

The good news -- consumers now have two new cops on the beat in Washington, DC who actually want to hear from you about your car-buying problems. Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law, the Federal Trade Commission and newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have new authority to act, to protect consumers. Before, the FTC was preoccupied with home mortgage issues, identity theft, telemarketing abuses, and other types of scams. Now -- for the first time in decades -- it is making auto sales issues a priority.

If you were ripped off by an auto dealer, it's very important to complain to the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over auto dealers, and can now issue rules to curb unfair and deceptive acts committed by auto dealers. If the FTC gets enough complaints from consumers, it may also take enforcement action, and target individual dealers who have a history of engaging in bad practices. Eventually, that may result in victims receiving restitution or other relief. The agency may also issue a new rule to prohibit the shady practices.

The more consumer complaints the FTC gets, the better. Consumer complaints are a HUGELY important factor in whether the agency decides to act.

Where to complain:

If you were scammed by a dealer who sells only used cars, at a smaller independent car lot, then it's a good idea to also tell your story to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has jurisdiction over so called "Buy-Here-Pay-Here" car lots, and they are eager to act. Like the FTC, they need to hear from consumers to be able to justify moving forward.

Where to complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

Note: It may take months for either agency to act. So keep in mind that complaining to them is important, but not a substitute for getting legal advice and taking your own legal action. To find an attorney who is expert in winning against unscrupulous dealers or manufacturers, check out the "find an attorney" section at the National Association of Consumer Advocates, at

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Avoid buying cars with killer safety defects
Buyer beware: NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

The CARS Foundation's tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:
Top 12 used car buying tips
12 used car buying tips that can save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid lemons and cars with killer safety defects

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