Extended auto warranty scam statistics

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In June 2022, there were an estimated one billion auto warranty scams attempted in the United States. These scams came in the form of robocalls, texts and imposter calls offering low-cost warranties or special deals. That number dropped dramatically as the result of several major government actions against companies accused of scamming on a huge scale. The problem persists, but it appears to occur at a lower rate than in the past.

Virtually all cars sold from legitimate sources offer some kind of car warranty. Manufacturer’s warranties, which generally come with the car at no extra cost, protect the owner in case of short-term issues that affect certain car parts. An extended warranty is a form of insurance that protects the owner from issues that occur after the initial warranty expires. While legitimate extended warranties are available from a variety of sources, it can be tough to find one that doesn’t have too many exclusions or that doesn’t include duplicate protections already provided by existing warranties.

Key insights

Auto warranty scams were, for several years, the top robocall complaint filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They rose from nearly 7,600 in 2020 to more than 12,000 in 2021. According to some estimates, they accounted for 13% to 17% of all robocalls in the first half of 2022.

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Nearly one billion auto warranty scam robocalls were made in June 2022. Following a series of FCC actions against several offending companies, however, car warranty robocalls dropped to fewer than seven million by September of the same year.

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In February 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint for a permanent injunction against and monetary compensation from chronic operators of auto warranty scams. A U.S. district court in Florida issued a lifetime ban from outbound telemarketing or auto warranty sales against those telemarketing firms that were sued.

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Auto warranty fraud comes largely in the form of robocalls and texts. While the number of auto warranty scams has dropped, the overall incidence of roboscams as a whole continues to fluctuate. While robocalls dropped by 14% in September 2023, robotexts increased by 9% in that same month. Americans received nearly 14 billion robotexts in October 2023 alone.

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The FTC received 126,240 reports of auto-related fraud within the first nine months of 2023, amounting to just under 3% of all fraud reports it received during that period. This made auto-related fraud the FTC’s sixth most commonly reported fraud category overall.

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Types of auto warranty scams

Americans received nearly one billion car warranty robocalls in June 2022. While that number has since plunged as a result of actions taken by the FCC and FTC, the issue is still prevalent.

Consumers can cut down on robocalls by placing themselves on the national Do Not Call registry. The FTC tracks complaints about unwanted telemarketing and spam calls, and according to the most recent data, calls about warranties and protection plans are the fifth most common complaint from consumers on the Do Not Call list. From September 2022 to September 2023, the FTC logged nearly 35,000 complaints related to that topic.

Scams may come via texts, emails, robocalls or personal calls. Often, the scammer will start by sending a notice that an auto warranty is about to expire and offering the opportunity to buy an extended warranty. They will then reach out with a call, email or text that appears legitimate. The scammer will use “hard sell” techniques to convince the consumer to provide personal information, which is then used fraudulently.

Scammers may be recognized in several ways:

  • Legitimate warranty companies almost never make cold calls, so unexpected phone calls usually signal that the offer is a scam.
  • Scammers often use phrases like “Motor Vehicle Notification,” “Final Warranty Notice” or “Notice of Interruption” to suggest urgency.
  • Unlike legitimate warranty companies, scammers communicate through text and robocalls and/or use high-pressure sales tactics.

Who gets scammed the most?

In 2021, AARP found that auto warranty scammers had contacted 7 in 10 Americans during the 12-month period preceding the AARP study. That number has fallen as more people learn how to spot and avoid car warranty scams, but “imposter” scams are still an issue.

Imposter fraud, which includes scammers posing as auto warranty companies, is by far the most common type of fraud in the U.S., with 605,428 imposter fraud reports filed with the FTC in the first nine months of 2023. Imposter fraud caused nearly $1.97 billion in losses during that period.

While the FTC doesn’t currently track the incidence of auto warranty fraud by victims’ ages, it does track the impact that all combined fraud categories have on different age groups.

While people over the age of 80 experience, by far, the greatest monetary loss from scams of all types (a median loss of $1,750), they are least likely to report a fraud-related loss to the authorities. But based on reported instances of fraud, younger adults are much more likely than seniors to fall victim to scams.

The states that reported the highest incidence of all scam types in 2022 were Georgia, Delaware and Nevada. States with the lowest incidence of reported fraud were North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, 2023.

Recent FTC lawsuits and extended auto warranty fines

In March 2023, as a result of an FTC lawsuit, the operators of an auto warranty telemarketing scam were fined a total of $6.6 million and permanently banned from working in the outbound telemarketing or auto warranty markets. This was in addition to a much larger fine of nearly $300 million imposed by the FCC in 2022 against a similar auto warranty robocall operation run by Roy Cox Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones.

The companies involved included Sumco Panama SA, Sumco Panama USA, Virtual Telecom kft, Virtual Telecom Inc., Davis Telecom Inc., Geist Telecom LLC, Fugle Telecom LLC, Tech Direct LLC, Mobi Telecom LLC and Posting Express Inc.

Per the FCC, spoofing, which involves making calls using someone else’s identifying information, is not always illegal. But when it’s used to defraud, spoofing is punishable by up to $10,000 per violation.

FAQ

What percentage of people buy extended car warranties?

About 37% of vehicle owners hold an extended warranty. Only 1 in 10, however, actually use their warranty.

Is an extended car warranty ever worth it?

Yes, an extended car warranty can be worth the money. This is especially true in the current car market because there is such a limited supply of available used cars, which makes keeping your current car running especially important. An affordable extended warranty may be a wise purchase if you’re likely to have trouble paying repair bills in the next few years.

What is the lawsuit for auto warranty?

In 2022 and 2023, the FTC filed lawsuits against firms engaged in calls, robocalls, texts and emails intended to defraud consumers by “selling” nonexistent extended car warranties. The result of these lawsuits has been a dramatic drop in the number of auto warranty scams.

Why am I getting mail about car warranties?

If the mail is from the company that sold you your car, it may be legitimate, and it may really be time to renew your warranty. To determine if the mail is authentic or fraudulent, reach out to your existing warranty’s provider via the contact information listed on its official website.


References

  1. Robokiller. “Car warranty robocalls plummeted in late 2022: Here’s why.” Robokiller. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  2. Colleen Tressler. “What to know about auto service contracts and extended warranty scams.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  3. Federal Communications Commission. “Data Spotlight: Top Robocall Complaints in 2021.” Federal Communications Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  4. Federal Communications Commission. “Robocall Facilitators Must Cease and Desist.” Federal Communications Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  5. Federal Trade Commission. “STIPULATED ORDER FOR PERMANENT INJUNCTION, MONETARY JUDGMENT, AND OTHER RELIEF AS TO DEFENDANTS DANIEL KOLE AND KOLE CONSULTING GROUP, INC.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  6. Robokiller. “2023 United States robotext trends.” Robokiller. Accessed Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  7. Federal Trade Commission. “Auto Warranties and Auto Service Contracts.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  8. Federal Trade Commission. “Fraud Reports.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  9. Maddie Duley. “Men Are More Likely To Lose Cash to Scammers: What Women Are Doing To Protect Themselves.” Yahoo Finance. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  10. Federal Communications Commission. “FCC Proposes Nearly $300M Fine Against Auto Warranty Scam Robocaller.” Federal Communications Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  11. Federal Communications Commission. “Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts.” Federal Communications Commission. Evaluated Dec. 7, 2023. Link Here
  12. Federal Trade Commission. “Do Not Call Complaints.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 15, 2023. Link Here
  13. Federal Trade Commission. “The Big View: All Sentinel Reports.” Federal Trade Commission. Evaluated Dec. 15, 2023. Link Here

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