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Deceptive car ads give consumers a bum steer

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Sign & Drive Leases: ZERO DOWN!!!!!! ALL LEASES ARE Zip, Zero, Zilch — Nothing Down

Sound appealing? That’s exactly what some people around Massillon, Ohio thought when they read those claims in full-page newspaper ads from two local car dealers. But the FTC says ads for Progressive Chevrolet and Progressive Motors didn’t properly disclose restrictions on the offer. It turns out you needed a credit score of 800 or higher with approved credit to get those attractive terms. According to the FTC, the ads also didn’t properly disclose other required information, including the length of the lease, and the fact that tax, tags, and fees weren’t included in the monthly payments. Important terms only appeared in fine print at the bottom of the page, if at all. The FTC says that’s deceptive and violates federal law.

The law is clear, even if the dealers’ ads weren’t. It’s illegal to leave out or bury important information, and it’s illegal to draw in people with claims that only apply to a select few.

Under the proposed settlement, Progressive Chevrolet and Progressive Motors must clearly and conspicuously disclose restrictions on a consumer’s ability to get the advertised payment terms — such as if the consumer needs a high credit score to qualify. If a majority of consumers aren’t likely to meet a minimum credit score, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact. The dealers’ finance and lease ads must not be misleading, and the lease ads must clearly disclose all terms as required by law.

If you’re in the market for a new ride, learn how to determine whether special promotions featured in car ads offer genuine value or simply have you spinning your wheels.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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