Jackson Law Firm

Vulnerable clients often the targets of consumer fraud

In an example that shows how consumers with language and cultural barriers can easily become victims of fraud, human rights groups and attorneys claim that Navajos are often the targets of deceptive trade practices with car dealerships. Navajos, many of whom speak English as a second language or not at all, are at risk of being tricked into signing contracts they don't understand.

There are a few common ways that car dealers are said to dupe Navajo consumers. Often a consumer will bring in an old car to trade, and later end up owing for two cars, mistakenly understanding that the car dealership would pay off the old car loan. Car dealers have also been accused of encouraging a buyer to take home a vehicle and later tricking the consumer into signing a contract that he or she can't afford. Tacking on extra charges such as theft guard and additional warranties that the consumer doesn't need is also a common practice.

It's no secret that contracts of any kind can be confusing for most consumers, and the same goes for business owners, too. Contracts are meant to be binding, so it is important for anyone entering into such an agreement to know exactly what is at stake and how to avoid risks.

Texas is one of many "buyer beware states," where those who speak English as a second language or are otherwise vulnerable need to be extra vigilant to protect themselves against consumer fraud. Anyone who has questions about the terms of a contract, no matter how simple or complex, would do well to consult with an attorney with experience in contract disputes.

Source: Fronteras, "Navajos Often Victims Of Predatory Car Sales," Laurel Morales, Dec. 17, 2012

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