Complaints to Consumer-Protection Agencies
Some home-repair contractors in Florida are taking advantage of home owners using an “assignment of benefits.” This is a provision in a contract giving the contractor, not the home owner, the right to control any claim made on the home owner’s insurance policy and to collect any funds paid by the insurance company. Before you sign a contract for home repairs, you should learn more about this. The Florida Department of Financial Services has provided some helpful information here.
Before Buying a Car
Whether it’s a new car or a used car, there are plenty of traps out there, so consumers should educate themselves before making a purchase.
Some helpful car-buying guides are provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and by Clark Howard, a consumer advocate who has guides for buying a new car and for buying a used car.
Extra caution should be exercised when buying a used car. This is partly because the law permits the dealer to disclaim all warranties, meaning the dealer may avoid all responsibility for the condition of the car after it is sold. If the contract for a used car clearly states the car is sold “as is,” with no warranty, then the buyer might not have any recourse if/when the car breaks down – even if it breaks down immediately after the sale. It is wise to have the car examined by an independent mechanic before the sale is completed.
The sale of a used car is an opportunity for several kinds of fraud. For example, a dealer might not disclose that a car was previously damaged in a wreck or a flood, or the odometer might have been tampered with to make the mileage look lower than it actually is. Before buying a used car, it is wise to check into the car’s history. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a good source of information. Consumers may obtain a report with NMVTIS information, showing prior transfers of title and prior odometer readings, among other things. You may learn more about the NMVTIS here, and order a report with NNVTIS information here.
There is no “cooling off” period, or right of rescission, for car sales. There are few exceptions to this rule, so car buyers should not expect to be able to cancel a sale after signing a contract.
As always, it is very important to read and understand any contract before signing it. You should not sign a contract to purchase a car if the terms are not completely filled in. Be sure to get a copy of any contract you sign.