Automobile repair fraud consistently remains one of the top five consumer complaints in many states, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Older Americans are often targets of this illegal behavior because they are perceived as more wealthy and more concerned about safety and liability.
What can you do to avoid being a victim? Several things.
* Find someone you can trust before major repairs are needed. Shop around while having minor repair work or routine maintenance done on your vehicle. Hopefully you will find someone you can trust, and, even better, establish a relationship with.
* Protect yourself in writing. Always insist on being provided with a written repair estimate itemizing the repairs needed and the cost. Request that all replaced parts be returned. Then, make sure that you get a detailed invoice of all work done, with an itemized breakdown of all labor performed and parts purchased.
* For major repairs, don’t hesitate to get a second or third opinion.
* Lastly, if you really want to protect yourself or are already suspicious of the repair facility, mark your parts. Take a permanent marker and discreetly mark parts that you’ve been told will need replaced or you believe will need to be replaced. If you don’t find your mark on the returned parts following the repair, you know to check the part in your car.
Making sure that you don’t become a victim of fraud can be extra work – no doubt about it. But believe me, when you realize you are a victim, you’ll wish you would have taken the time.