Extended car warranty scams: What you need to know

If you get a call telling you that your car warranty is about to expire, beware — this is a common scam used to defraud people over the phone.

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By

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Published|5 min read

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According to the Federal Communications Commision (FCC), Americans received almost four billion robocalls per month in 2020, so the odds are good you have received more than your fair share of automated calls, including extended car warranty scam calls. [1]  

A car warranty is a legitimate product, often referred to as mechanical breakdown insurance, designed to protect you financially if your car has a mechanical issue that isn’t covered by your car insurance, like electrical system issues. 

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You may or may not want to have an extended car warranty, but you would never want to purchase one from a robocall. Getting scam calls about your car’s extended warranty is upsetting, but there are ways to protect yourself from extortion, identity theft, and other fraudulent activity over the phone.

Key takeaways

  • Extended car warranty scam calls are calls made by scammers to try and get your money and personal information.

  • Answering a call from a scammer is a bad idea, even if you don’t fall for the scam.

  • Signing up for the national Do Not Call registry is the first step in protecting yourself from predatory warranty calls.

  • If you get a scam call, or worse, are a victim of an extended warranty scam, you can file a complaint through the FCC’s consumer complaints website.

Why am I getting calls about my car's extended warranty?

To put it bluntly, extended car warranty scam calls are a tool to try and get your money and personal information. Scammers buy contact information in bulk and use the names, addresses, and phone numbers to try and convince you to buy a fraudulent extended warranty for your car.

These unwanted calls are usually robocall scams, which means an automated message prompts you to push a button and connect with a live representative. 

Sometimes the call is clearly a scam (like when you get a call about your extended warranty and don’t even own a car), but sometimes the scammers have enough information to make it seem legitimate, including your name and the type of car you drive.

However simple or complex a car warranty call may seem, you should never give your credit card information or any other financial or personal information to someone who calls you about your car’s extended warranty.

Are vehicle extended warranties scams?

Extended car warranties are real products (usually sold by dealerships or third-parties) that cover broken or defective parts in your car once your original manufacturer warranty runs out. They can cover things like:

  • Repairing or fixing your engine, transmission, or other internal parts 

  • Problems or defects with seatbelts, airbags, and other safety features

  • Problems or defects with electronic systems like your stereo or air conditioner

An extended warranty only covers mechanical issues, so liability, comprehensive, and collision coverages aren’t included when you purchase a warranty. Some warranties offer roadside assistance coverage, but this isn’t universal, so check your warranty carefully before assuming the coverage is included.

Extended warranties can be legitimate products, but they often cost more than they save you over time. It is also easy to sell a scam extended warranty through a fake third party company, which means you should be cautious about purchasing an extended car warranty. If you choose to buy a warranty be sure to read the fine print and buy one from a legitimate company, not an automated robocall.

What happens if you answer a scam call?

Answering a call from a scammer could be a bad idea, even if you don’t fall for the scam. Answering the call could potentially lead to more scam calls in the future if the scammer recognizes that there's someone on the other end of the phone who is willing to pick up. 

Worse still, answering your phone puts you in a position where you could potentially fall for a scam. Extended car warranty scam calls have been around for decades at this point, but there are new scams all the time and you risk being exposed to something you don’t recognize as a scam when you answer a call from an unknown number.

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How do they get away with car warranty scam calls?

An extended car warranty is a product you buy in case something bad happens down the road, so you could have a warranty for a long time before trying to use it. Because of this, people who fall victim to the scam often don’t realize they were defrauded for months or years, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to track.

Also, with people and offices all over the world, auto warranty scam calls are hard to track and even harder to prosecute. One of the biggest car warranty scams was shut down by the FTC in 2012 and they found that, while the company was located in California, they had bank accounts and offices in Hong Kong and Saipan. [2]  

But this was only one of many companies looking to rip off unsuspecting people, which means scam calls continue to be a problem.

How to protect yourself from scam calls

Getting scam calls can be a pain, whether it’s auto warranty scams or some other robocall. While there’s no surefire way to stop auto warranty scam calls, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself:

1. Sign up for the Do Not Call registry

Signing up for the national Do Not Call registry is the first step in protecting yourself from predatory warranty scam calls. [3] The Do Not Call registry is designed to help stop unwanted sales calls by putting your phone number into a database of people who cannot be contacted by individuals or companies trying to sell something.

This does not apply to non-sales calls, which means you may still get fundraising calls, political polls, and other types of calls that aren’t selling anything. Just because they aren’t selling something doesn’t make them legitimate, however, and companies who are illegally scamming you likely won’t pay much attention to the law, so don’t assume that being on the Do Not Call registry is a foolproof way to protect yourself from scammers.

Signing up for the Do Not Call registry does not stop scammers from calling you, but it does give you the confidence to know that, if you get a call trying to sell you something, it’s likely a scam because legitimate companies won’t call people who are on the registry.

2. Familiarize yourself with the most common scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a list of the most common scams on its website, which makes it easier to know what you should expect from scammers and robocalls.  [4] The extended car warranty scam is the first one on the list, but other common scams include fraudulent tech support calls and imposters pretending to raise money for disaster relief efforts.

The list isn’t comprehensive, but knowing what scams are most popular right now is a good way to prevent yourself from being defrauded.

3. File a complaint with the FCC

The FCC works to stop scammers from stealing your money and your identity over the phone. [5] If you get a scam call, or worse, are a victim of an extended warranty scam, you can file a complaint through the FCC’s consumer complaints website.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do car warranty companies get my information?

When you buy a car, your information goes through a number of companies and organizations, including the dealership, the DMV, your finance company, your insurance company, etc. While most companies have rules against selling your information, not all do, and many states such as CA and NY allow the DMV to sell your personal information to third parties, including extended car warranty companies.

Is a service contract an extended warranty?

An extended warranty is a type of vehicle service contract that covers some of the costs associated with car repairs and replacement parts.

Can I block scam calls, robocalls, and other unknown numbers?

Yes, it is possible to block calls on your smartphone. You can block individual numbers, but this may not be effective because spam callers often fake their number (often called spoofing) so the number that shows on your caller ID isn’t the number they are calling from.

Should I cancel my extended warranty?

It depends. You can cancel an extended warranty at any time and get a prorated refund, so drivers who don’t think they need a warranty or don’t want the extra expense can cancel the coverage for a refund.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Federal Communications Commission

    . "

    The FCC's Push to Combat Robocalls & Spoofing

    ." Accessed April 22, 2022.

  2. Federal Trade Commission

    . "

    FTC Action Puts Robocallers Out of the Telemarketing Business

    ." Accessed April 22, 2022.

  3. Federal Trade Commission

    . "

    National Do Not Call Registry

    ." Accessed April 22, 2022.

  4. Federal Trade Commission

    . "

    Glossary of Scams and Legal Terms

    ." Accessed April 22, 2022.

  5. Federal Communications Commission

    . "

    Watch out for Auto Warranty Scams

    ." Accessed April 22, 2022.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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