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For release after 11 a.m. Central Time Friday, November 21, 2008.
Contact Bob Brammer 515-281-6699.

Miller Urges FTC to Strengthen
“Used Car Rule”

A.G. says consumers are entitled to know if vehicle has been damaged by flood or collision.

Attorney General Tom Miller is urging the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen “Buyer’s Guide” notices to indicate if used cars, trucks or SUVs that are for sale have suffered prior damage from collisions or floods.

“Nothing diminishes the market value of a used vehicle more than a history of crashes or flood damage,” Miller said. “Consumers should be entitled to know instantly if a vehicle has been damaged by flood or collision.”

Miller led a group of 42 attorneys general in asking the FTC to strengthen its “Used Car Rule,” which requires used car dealers to post “Buyer’s Guide” sticker notices on vehicles for sale. The current Rule requires used-car Buyer’s Guide notices to tell prospective buyers whether a vehicle is offered with a warranty, or is being sold “as-is,” without a warranty.

“The Rule should go farther,” Miller said. “Warranty information is valuable for used-car buyers, but prior damage information is at least as important. It’s a crucial fact for determining the value of a vehicle, and it’s a crucial safety consideration as well.”

The AGs said the Rule should be strengthened in order to help prevent fraud and omissions of material fact. Vehicle history is “about the most material fact one can know about a used vehicle – its damage, title, and Lemon Law history,” the states told the FTC.

The State AGs’ appeal was contained in a “Comment” letter submitted to the FTC this week. The AGs noted that Wisconsin already requires prior-damage information to be disclosed on their Buyer’s Guide, and that the FTC approved the Wisconsin regulation.

“There simply is no excuse for the national Buyer’s Guide to fail to include vehicle history and title brand information” as in Wisconsin, the states said. “That information is readily available to dealers through private data sources and through title records accompanying vehicles they purchase at auction or take in trade. If Wisconsin dealers are required and can determine facts sufficient to make that disclosure, so too should dealers in the rest of the nation.”

The states’ “Comment” letter was filed November 19 by the Attorneys General of 40 states and two territories: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

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