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[ATG] AG Zoeller files lawsuits against four auto dealers for failing to deliver titles to customers, other deceptive acts
Start Date: 3/10/2016Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/10/2016
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today filed lawsuits against four auto dealers and their owners accused of failing to deliver customers’ vehicle titles and other deceptive acts. The auto dealers – all of which have gone out of business – were located in Fort Wayne, Fortville and Indianapolis.

Zoeller said without a vehicle title, it is impossible to obtain a state vehicle registration in order to operate a vehicle legally.

“The 48 Hoosiers impacted in these cases spent thousands of dollars on cars which they now can’t prove they own,” Zoeller said. “This can be a common problem, especially when used auto dealers go out of business. Our office is able to step in to help these customers get what they purchased.”

He said his priority with these legal actions is to secure the titles for these consumers as quickly as possible.

In lawsuits filed today, Zoeller alleges the following former auto dealers violated Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, and he seeks restitution for impacted customers – including title delivery – in addition to investigative costs and civil penalties.

  • Prestige Auto in Fortville, lawsuit filed in Hancock County court – Accused of failure to deliver titles to at least 10 customers and failure to provide a purchased warranty to one customer. According to the lawsuit, Prestige also agreed to pay-off remaining loan amounts on three trade-in vehicles, which they never did, resulting in the consumers facing repayment on loans of $23,800 and $3,500 after purchasing their new vehicles.
  • AnyCredit Auto Superstore Inc. in Fort Wayne, lawsuit filed in Allen County court – Accused of failure to deliver titles to at least 10 customers, misrepresenting the price of a vehicle and failure to perform repairs on a vehicle it represented it would perform.
  • Southport Motors in Indianapolis, lawsuit filed in Marion County court – Accused of failure to deliver 21 titles to customers. Additionally, Southport failed to pay off the remaining loan balance on one customer’s trade-in vehicle in the amount of $16,500.
  • US Fleet Liquidators LLC in Indianapolis, lawsuit filed in Marion County court – Accused of failure to deliver titles to 7 customers.

Under state law, car dealers and individuals from whom a customer has purchased a vehicle are required to deliver the title to the purchaser at the time of sale or delivery or within 21 days of the date of the sale.

Often, the titles to the cars sitting on the lots of used car dealers are owned by a “floor planner” not the dealer. When a customer purchases a car from the dealer, the dealer must pay a portion of that money to the “floor planner” who would then transfer the title to the customer. In cases like these, the auto dealer continues to sell cars but stops paying the “floor planner” for the titles, leaving the customer high and dry.

In recent years, the Attorney General’s Office has filed lawsuits regarding title non-delivery in 20 cases, and has resolved numerous other such cases without the need for litigation.

Top complaint area

The Attorney General’s Office receives more auto sales complaints each year than any other retail category, with 1,340 such complaints filed in 2015.

“Each year, auto sales complaints flood into my office,” Zoeller said. “The reality is car buyers will always be at a disadvantage because the seller has more information about the cars and may be in a position to deceive. Car buyers need to know and understand their rights and practice smart strategies to avoid getting scammed.”

This week, March 6-12, is National Consumer Protection Week, aimed at educating the public about fraud, scams and strategies to avoid becoming a victim.

Zoeller said his office recently created the Auto Buyer’s Bill of Rights to educate consumers and provide a helpful guide for those making a vehicle purchase, whether new or used. He is calling on the auto industry to also alert consumers of their rights and place a higher emphasis on consumer protection.

In 2015, the Attorney General’s Office took legal action against 13 auto dealers in Indiana for deceptive practices and secured more than $1.1 million in consumer restitution.

More tips for consumers when purchasing a car can be found here.

Zoeller thanked Deputy Attorneys General Steven Frank, Ruth Rivera, Martha Showers and Mark Snodgrass for their work on these cases.

To file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 800-382-5516.
Contact Information:
Name: Molly Gillaspie
Phone: 317.232.0168
Email: molly.gillaspie@atg.in.gov
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