Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that more than $1.65 million in goods and services have been recovered for New Yorkers who have received faulty or fraudulent service from car dealerships and repair shops. . The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles helped customers recover titles when dealerships closed abruptly, helped people get repairs or refunds, and in some cases dealerships bought back vehicles to settle disputes.
“When bad actors try to take advantage of consumers, New York will fight back,” Governor Hochul said. “My administration is dedicated to protecting consumers from fraud, working closely with motorists who file complaints to ensure they get what they pay for. This money recovered by the DMV on behalf of consumers is a testament to our ongoing efforts to make our state a better and fairer place for all New Yorkers.
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ Office of Vehicle Safety investigates complaints from consumers who believe they have been misled or wronged by a DMV-regulated company. In 2021, the agency was able to collect refunds for 540 clients totaling more than $385,000. In other cases, DMV has investigated complaints about the quality of repair work performed on customer vehicles. DMV allowed these consumers to get a total of $78,000 worth of additional repair work done at no additional cost to the customer.
Also, some customers have had cars sold by car dealerships that went out of business before issuing the vehicle titles, which means the consumer no longer has proof of ownership, but in many cases, he is still responsible for car payments. DMV’s offices of Vehicle Safety and Title Services worked together to recover vehicle titles worth over $682,000 for these customers.
Since 2017, when the DMV began tracking data on these recoveries, the Department has helped 279 consumers get a clear title on their vehicles worth more than $4.5 million.
A certificate of title for a vehicle is what establishes a person or business as the legal owner. It includes important information about the vehicle’s history and the vehicle itself, including the year, make and model. Without a title, a vehicle owner is unable to transfer ownership, remove a lien, or provide the proof of ownership necessary to take out a loan on the vehicle or file an insurance claim.
In some cases where the customer has filed a complaint regarding the purchase of a vehicle, dealerships have offered to repurchase the vehicle during the DMV investigation. The value of those redemptions in 2021 was over $503,000.
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark JF Schroeder said, “At DMV, we are very proud of the work our Vehicle Safety Unit does on behalf of consumers. Anyone who thinks they have been taken advantage of during a sales or repair experience should know that they have an attorney to defend them to make sure they get what they pay for.
When customers file a complaint, DMV first discusses it with the customer and the company to try to resolve it amicably. About half of all complaints are resolved directly. If the problem is not resolved, a DMV inspector investigates the complaint. If a dealer or store is found to have violated laws and/or regulations, DMV may impose fines and suspend or revoke business registrations.
To learn more about filing a complaint, see the DMV Consumer Guide. DMV also helps businesses and offers information on their rights in the event of a complaint in our Guide for Facilities.
New Yorkers can learn more about their rights when taking their vehicles to a repair shop on DMV’s Know Your Auto Repair Rights page.
To be certain they are using a state-licensed repair shop or dealership that performs repair work, consumers should look for a green and white “New York State Registered Automotive Repair Shop” sign. on the outside of the shop and a valid New York State Department of Motor Vehicle Registration Certificate inside. For a dealer, the sign will be red and white.
Consumers can also verify that a repair shop, car dealership, or motor vehicle inspection station is properly registered on the Find a DMV Regulated Business web page. For consumers preparing to buy, trade in, or sell a vehicle, the DMV also offers helpful tips on its Let the Buyer Be Aware page.