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Illinois attorney general sues 2 dealers over 'recall' mailings

November 17, 2010

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Aug. 27 sued two Orland Park dealerships for deceptive sales and advertising practices.

Madigan said her office received 26 complaints against Orland Park Nissan and Infiniti of Orland Park about direct mail advertisements sent in 2007, and the Better Business Bureau received another 18 complaints about the mailings that reportedly suggested the recipients’ vehicles were part of a government recall.

The envelopes used in the mailing were stamped "Important Vehicle Recall Information Enclosed" and "Do Not Destroy." Madigan said. But the contents of the envelope had nothing to do with a recall. They instead promoted an "exclusive credit amnesty event."

The mailer indicated that targeted consumers may have filed bankruptcy in the past but that the "amnesty" would enable consumers to qualify for an affordable auto loan no matter their credit rating. The consumers were urged to call the dealers to arrange a private appointment.

"These deceptive mailers purposely and unfairly targeted consumers who may have struggled at one time to manage their finances," Attorney General Madigan said. "This lawsuit should send the message to auto dealers that my office won’t tolerate using deceptive marketing practices to lure unsuspecting consumers into risky loans."

Madigan’s complaint alleges that the mailer violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Loan Advertising to Bankrupts Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois Administrative Rules on Motor Vehicle Advertising.

The complaint seeks to have the dealerships barred from using similar advertising tactics again, plus civil penalties of up to $50,000 for each violation.