Your car starts making weird sounds. The check engine light comes on. Something is leaking or smells like smoke. So, off to the mechanic you go. Except, what do you do when you can’t afford to get your car fixed? In this case, a car warranty could come in quite handy.
A car warranty is just that extra bit of financial protection for times when mechanical repairs prove expensive, and you don’t have enough money to make those repairs or buy a working replacement. But not all car warranties are made the same. In fact, some of these so-called warranties are actually scams in disguise.
Are All Car Warranties Scams?
No, not always. Car warranties can be legitimate and useful in the right situations. You might get one at the time of purchase of a new or used car. With some car purchases, you could get one automatically from the manufacturer.
The problem with some warranties is that the “right” situations are often restricted, as are the facilities where repairs can be made. You may think that a warranty would cover all mechanical problems, but that’s not always true. Nor can you automatically go to your regular mechanic to get something fixed and have the cost taken care of.
And then there’s the issue of so-called extended warranties. As the name would imply, this kind of warranty would extend coverage past one that’s expiring. Unless it comes from the same company as your original warranty though, or at least a company you’ve heard of, be wary. It could be a scam.
Understanding the actual restrictions of a car warranty may already put you on the defensive, even with legitimate companies. But when the offer of an extended car warranty comes to you unsolicited by phone, that should raise even more red flags.
The number of scam car warranty robocalls have increased in past years. In fact, the FCC reports that they were the top consumer complaint in 2020. And they keep on coming, mostly because they keep working.
Messaging is something along the lines of, “Your car warranty is about to expire. Get a new one or face thousands of dollars in repair costs.” Starting from that ominous intro, the robocall will then walk a target through a variety of steps to buy a supposed new warranty.
Rather than actually helping someone to protect themselves financially, these phone scammers will instead take a significant amount of your money for an “extended warranty” that is next to useless. That, or they simply use the pretext of an extended auto warranty to mine personal information, which can end up being just as valuable to a scammer.
How to Avoid a Car Warranty Scam
- The caller is clearly a recording.
- The phone number is not one you recognize.
- The message is vague. It may know you have a car warranty that’s expiring. But the robot probably won’t mention specifics like the company that provides your current warranty or the model or make of your car.
- It conveys an overt sense of urgency. Sure, you may want to keep a warranty in place. But it’s probably not an emergency that you have to fix RIGHT NOW.
- You are asked to provide personal information over the phone. The robot may ask for a Social Security Number, bank account number, or a credit card number before you speak to a real person.
Anytime you even have a suspicion that a call is from a scammer, your safest course of action is just to hang up. Never give anyone any personal information over the phone. And even your voice could be used against you, so just hanging up before you say “yes,” “no,” or anything else is probably your best bet.
After that, you can research the phone number to try and determine if the caller was legitimate. If you find that it’s not, then you should report it to the FCC and get an investigation going.
The Bottom Line
Unlike insurance, a car warranty is not something you need to have to legally operate a car. It’s just a back-up if you need it, if or when something breaks.
If you do feel safer having a car warranty, that’s perfectly fine. Just be sure that you’re the one reaching out to get one from a legitimate company. And always, always be sure to read the fine print to make sure that any warranty you get is actually giving you the financial security you want and need.
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