In December 2023, the Biden administration’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a policy that protects people from being scammed when they buy a car. 

The “Combating Auto Retail Scams” (or “CARS”) rule, which adds truth and transparency to the car buying and leasing process, protects against bait-and-switch, misleading, and other harmful tactics that some car dealers have historically used to take advantage of consumers, including some tactics specifically targeting veterans and military families. 

Service members are uniquely vulnerable to unscrupulous car dealers – they are often young or financially inexperienced, they have a guaranteed paycheck, and they are often limited to the area near a military installation with limited time or ability to comparison shop between dealers.

Too often they fall prey both to scams that specifically target service members—misrepresenting military affiliation or deceiving consumers about the extent of Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protections—as well as to tricks and swindles that harm car buyers generally, such as payment packing or the so-called yo-yo scam.

Extremist corporate special interests are challenging these important protections with a lawsuit that, if successful, will allow car dealers to continue to rip off veterans, service members, and their families. 

The FTC protections are being attacked in court by the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, and the regulations are currently on hold, pending the outcome of a case brought by the car dealers who are being asked to be more honest and transparent. 

It is reprehensible that these simple transparency measures and basic protections against fraud are under threat.

On May 21, 2024, a coalition of veterans and service member organizations, represented by Democracy Forward, submitted a friend of the court brief in the case to ensure the court knows how important this rule is for veterans and service members

Included in the coalition is the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, Minority Veterans of America, the Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers Association of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.

The brief filed by groups that serve veterans, service members, and their families highlights the variety of ways unscrupulous car dealers take advantage of service members and veterans, harming military readiness, as well as American military families as a result and how the Federal Trade Commission’s final “Combating Auto Retail Scams Trade Regulation Rule” (CARS Rule) will ban most, if not all, of these practices, protecting all Americans—and especially service members, veterans, and their families—from exploitative practices by car dealers.

Read the Case Files