Credit Reports and Buying a car

If I walk into an auto dealer and ask for information about a car, can they order a credit report on me?

An automobile dealer may obtain a credit report only in those circumstances in which you clearly understand that you are initiating the purchase or lease of a vehicle, and the seller has a legitimate business need for the consumer report information in order to complete the transaction. (Of course, with your permission, a dealer can order a credit report on you.)

If I take a test drive, does that give the auto dealer a right to get a credit report on me?

A request to "test drive" a vehicle does not indicate an intent to initiate the purchase or lease of the vehicle. Accordingly, if you ask to test drive a vehicle, the dealer must obtain written permission from you before obtaining a credit report.

I want to pay for my car with a personal check. Does this give the dealer the right to get a credit report on me?

Yes.

I want to pay for my car with cash. Can the dealer request a report?

No. There is not a permissible purpose for doing so.

Does the dealer need my signature in order to request a credit report?

No. As long as it is clear that you are applying for credit, the dealer has a permissible purpose to get a credit report.

This information is gathered from published Federal Trade Commission opinions but does not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or of any particular Commissioner, and is not binding upon the FTC, and is not to be used as legal advise. State and other laws may be applicable.
 

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