There were over 120,000 reported auto fraud and scam cases in the U.S. in 2020. Drivers who are unfortunate to do business with a dishonest mechanic or dealership can be tricked out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Auto fraud comes in many different forms. Mechanics may overcharge or double charge for services, make unnecessary repairs, fake malfunctions, price gouge, or charge for unused parts. Car dealerships may lie about a buyer’s credit score, sell useless warranties or unnecessary products, and charge high interest rates. These practices are much more common in some states than others.
To determine the worst states for auto fraud, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a list compiled by insurance marketplace Clearsurance, which based its list on data from the Federal Trade Commission. States were ranked based on the per capita number of auto-related fraud cases.
The rate of auto fraud varies widely from state to state. Most states reported between 140 and 250 cases per million residents in 2020. In three states, there were fewer than 100 cases per million reported, but in eight states, there were more than 300 reports of auto fraud per million residents.
There are a number of proactive steps drivers can take to avoid auto fraud. They should thoroughly review all paperwork and make sure they get written estimates for any work on their car prior to the work. Drivers can also ask their mechanic to point out any issues the car has when maintenance or repairs are recommended. Auto owners should also be aware of the general cost of replacement parts before going into a mechanic. Of course, the easiest way to avoid being scammed by a mechanic is to buy a car that seldom needs repair. These are the longest lasting cars on the road.