Telemarketing is nothing new, but unwanted calls or letters about auto warranties have become an out-of-control scam, and it’s difficult to stop the madness. Since the pandemic began last year, things have gotten worse.
According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), unwanted telemarketing calls regarding your car warranty calls were the number one complaint during 2020.
What is an Auto Warranty Services Scam?
Often these calls come in as car warranty robocalls (pre-recorded messages) urging you that your car warranty is about to expire, and you must press a number or call back to ensure your coverage doesn’t lapse.
These auto warranty calls pretend to be from the manufacturer, your insurer, or even a local dealer where you purchased your car. Often the caller will have specific information about your vehicle, such as the year, make, and model trying to convince you they are legitimate. However, this information is readily available online and in public records, so don’t be fooled.
These extended car warranty calls will pitch it like it covers you from bumper to bumper, and they will even throw in free oil changes and regular maintenance visits. It’s all just a car warranty scam. If you shell out the thousands of dollars, you will get nothing in return. Even if you get a legitimate company, you will pay a lot for very little. Telemarketers use various tactics to sell things of little value that put a big profit in their wallets.
They will try to get your credit card information as quickly as possible before ending the call.
How to Avoid Car Warranty Scams
To avoid getting scammed by these car warranty calls and protect yourself against scams, use the tips below.
Find Out Who Called You
If the caller ID on your cell phone shows a number, jot it down. Even though phone numbers can be faked by spoofing, you can at least use them to report the fraud. If you receive a recorded message, save it so you can send it to the authorities. Don’t answer the call when it comes in; let your voicemail record the message.
You can use online search tools to find out who is on the other end of the phone call by using a reverse lookup and caller ID.
If they provided a company name (which often they will not), perform some research online to see if you can find a company that matches up. The more information you have when reporting it, the better.
Never answer a scam call from the same number twice. You don’t want them to flag you as a good target.
If you do not recognize the area code or phone number, just ignore it and allow it to go to voicemail. If the company offers a Do Not Call list, do not join it. This is simply a tactic to gather information about “live” phone numbers that work.
Even if the phone number and caller ID appear legitimate, don’t trust it. Numbers and names on the caller ID can be faked.
If You Answer the Phone
If you do answer the phone or call a number back, never give out personal information like your home address, social security number, driver’s license number, bank account info, or other personal details. Typically, these types of calls use scare tactics to make you think your warranty is about to expire, or you may lose something if you don’t “act fast.” They want to trick you into paying before thinking about it, don’t do that.
At first, the caller may seem nice and then become more insistent and even abusive if you do not comply. Do not provide credit cards or other payment information over the phone. If you feel uncomfortable or pressured, simply hang up the phone.
Be sure to keep all notes, the recorded message, and any other information you can about the incident, so you have plenty of ammunition when you go to report it.
Contact the Car Dealer
If you feel like the call came from your dealership or manufacturer, call them directly and ask. If they have no idea what you are talking about or tell you they do not make telemarketing calls regarding auto warranties, you can rest assured you were targeted by car warranty scammers.
Join the National Do Not Call Registry
Contact the national Do Not Call Registry and add your phone numbers to the list. Keep in mind that this will stop legitimate telemarketers from contacting you, but it will not stop scammers. They do not respect laws and don’t even attempt to follow protocol. These car warranty scams are designed with one goal in mind, to dupe you out of your hard-earned money.
Report Car Warranty Scams to the Better Business Bureau
Another excellent step is to contact the better business bureau and report it to them. If you have a company name and there is actually one, they can flag their BBB account with a scam alert so that others don’t get duped by the fraudulent company.
Report it to the Local Authorities
If you provided any personal information and your credit was damaged, you suffered identity theft, or lost any money, report it to the local authorities as well. However, understand that chances are even if you file the proper complaints, you will probably never see your money again. These scammers are skilled at getting away with this crime.
You may also consider contacting your attorney if you are dealing with a sleazy company rather than some anonymous individual who called to scam you.
File a Complaint with the FTC or FCC
The FTC has a helpful website with official complaint forms where you can report any fraudulent activity and scams. They allow you to do this online or by calling them.
If the company is legitimate but practicing in a way that scams customers, the FTC can file a lawsuit against them. That is why it is so important to report these types of fraud.
Older telemarketing laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Federal Communication Commission Rule, and the new TRACED Act allow lawmakers to more easily go after fraudsters and for consumers to identify scammers.
You can contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also to report car warranty scam calls.
iPhone, Android and other cell phones often have settings where you can block robocalls and spam.