By Leigh DeNoon, Indiana News Service
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - It's one of your biggest purchases, your car, and it could be your biggest headache as well.
The Consumer Federation of America and the Indiana Attorney General's office report that auto issues were the top type of consumer complaint for 2012. According to the CFA's Director of Consumer Protection, Susan Grant, false advertising for new and used cars, and towing company disputes, are among the many problems.
These include "auto repairs that aren't made properly; used cars that are sold that are total lemons, but because they're 'as-is,' the consumer can't do anything about it," Grant said.
Consumer agencies say car shoppers should have used vehicles inspected by an outside mechanic before they make the purchase, or they're stuck having to fix whatever problems the car has.
Abby Kuzma, director of consumer protection for the Indiana Attorney General's office, said problems with getting a title for a used car after it's purchased are also a top complaint, but luckily in these situations it is possible to intervene.
"We're very effective there, in really helping the consumer to obtain the title, because that is the seller's responsibility and we are very happy to play that role in assisting the consumer."
Kuzma said Internet scams fall in line after complaints about cars. She encourages people not to respond to offers in emails because they can be scams. She also suggests purchasing only from secure websites when payments must be made online.
She advised using "PayPal or your credit card, so that you're protecting your transaction under the Fair Credit Billing Act. And also, save the transaction and confirmation numbers from the purchases. Make a note of time and the contents of the order, so that if there's something going on, you have all the information at hand: you can make a complaint to us."
Kuzma said calls about debt collection, problems with lending and mortgages, and home repair issues round out the top five consumer complaints in Indiana.
Link to that report at ConsumerFed.org.