FTC Announces Operation Ruse Control

FTC’s Renewed Focus on the Retail Automotive Industry

Over the last year, the FTC has begun a renewed focus on the retail automotive industry. On March 26, the FTC announced another major sweep against auto dealers and unfair and deceptive practices in Operation Ruse Control.

Enforcement Actions and Allegations

The sweep announces 262 enforcement actions by 32 law enforcement agencies across the US and Canada. The announcement focused on deceptive advertising, loan application fraud, odometer fraud, deceptive add-on fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans, allegations commonly seen by a dealership lawyer. The FTC brought six of its own lawsuits against the auto industry.

Highlighted Cases

  • National Payment Network, Inc. (CA) and Matt Blatt Inc. (NJ): NPN allegedly misrepresented loan payment terms, promising to save consumers money through bi-weekly payments while concealing significant associated fees. This lack of transparency resulted in consumers unknowingly accruing an average of $775 in additional costs over the loan term.
  • Cory Fairbanks Mazda (FL), Jim Burke Nissan (AL), and Ross Nissan (CA): These dealerships faced allegations of violating multiple regulations, including the FTC Act, Truth in Lending Act, and Consumer Leasing Act. Their advertisements featured enticingly low monthly payment offers, only to reveal hidden terms and conditions upon closer inspection. Instances of misleading statements regarding down payments and limited rebates led to settlements imposing stricter advertising guidelines.
  • Regency Financial Services of Lake Worth (FL): Regency purported to renegotiate auto loans for consumers, charging substantial fees. However, investigations revealed that consumers often received no tangible benefits despite paying upfront. Litigation against Regency and its CEO remains ongoing, with an injunction preventing further deceptive practices.

Stay Informed and Compliant

Whether you are a car dealership owner, or a consumer, you want to stay up to date on compliance information. The easiest way to do this is through a car dealership lawyer. If you have questions regarding deceptive advertising or auto loans, please contact Attorney Harrison at 614.440.1395 or via e-mail at aharrison@alharrisonlaw.com.

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