When defects are discovered in automobiles, their manufacturers send out recall notices to affected car owners.  These notices are important and should get your immediate attention because often the defects are serious safety defects that demand a quick response.  Recently, Toyota recalled 1.7 million vehicles and Ford almost one million vehicles due to serious problems with their airbags that had been built by the Japanese company Takata.  However, anything that demands your attention will inevitably be corrupted by scammers and that is what is happening in a variety of scams related to automobile recalls.  The FTC recently settled a lawsuit against three car dealerships, Passport Toyota, Passport Nissan of Alexandria and Passport Nissan of Marlow Heights.  These dealerships operated in Virginia and Maryland.  They sent out notices by mail entitled “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” to more than 21,000 vehicle owners although few actually were subject to recalls.  The intention of these phony notices was to lure people into the dealerships in an effort to increase business.

Other scams related to phony automobile recalls start with a telephone call or an email informing you of a recall and then asking for personal information which the scammers use to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other recall scams, you are charged for repairs that you never receive.


Legitimate recall notices are always sent by  regular mail by the manufacturer.  If you receive a telephone call, text message or email purportedly being sent by your car manufacturer notifying you of an automobile recall, you can be confident that this is a scam.  As always, you should never give out personal information on the phone to someone who calls you regardless of how legitimate they may appear because you can never be sure that the call is legitimate without confirming it independently.  Through a technique called spoofing, your Caller ID can be tricked into making a call appear to be legitimate when it is not.  Likewise you can never be sure when you receive an email or a text message asking for personal information as to whether or not the communication is legitimate without independently confirming it.  An easy way to confirm whether a recall is legitimate is to call your car manufacturer at its toll free number.

Fortunately, if you want to investigate whether your car or truck is subject to a current safety recall, you also can go to the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at this link and enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) to learn whether there is a safety recall affecting your vehicle.https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

In addition, you can sign using the following link to be notified by NHTSA by email whenever there is a recall that affects your car or truck.https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/subscriptions

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