Sample Deceptive Car Ads

Here are some claims that may be deceptive — and why:

Vehicles are available at a specific low price or for a specific discount

What may be missing: The low price is after a downpayment, often thousands of dollars, plus other fees, like taxes, licensing and document fees, on approved credit. Other pitches: The discount is only for a pricey, fully-loaded model; or the reduced price or discount offered might depend on qualifications like the buyer being a recent college graduate or having an account at a particular bank.

“Only $99/Month”

What may be missing: The advertised payments are temporary “teaser” payments. Payments for the rest of the loan term are much higher. A variation on this pitch: You will owe a balloon payment — usually thousands of dollars — at the end of the term.

Zero or Low Rate Loans

What may be missing: The low advertised annual percentage rate (APR) may apply only to loans up to a certain amount — which may be a lot less than the purchase price. You will pay a higher APR for loans financing higher amounts. A variation on this pitch: rates may not be stated as “APR,” meaning the advertised rate may not reflect the true “annual” cost of financing, and may exclude certain costs required to be included in the APR.

“$0 Due at Lease Signing”

What may be missing: The fine print indicates that additional fees — sometimes several thousand dollars — are due at lease signing.

You’ve won!

What may be missing: The prize. This is just a tactic to get you into the showroom.