With good credit, buying a big-ticket purchase like a car should be a smooth process. However, if car buyers are victim to identity theft scams, they may struggle with getting the vehicle they originally had their eyes on.
While car thieves could steal a vehicle worth thousands of dollars, identity thieves could do more serious financial damage.
In May 2014, the FBI announced the agency charged members of an international identity theft ring that stole dozens of vehicles using their victims' information, according to a release.
"These charges are the first strike back on behalf of identity theft victims who now have to reclaim their good names—a frustrating task that can take years," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement.
As victims attempt to rebuild their lives and move on from identity theft, they should be aware of the consequences of this crime when it comes to buying a car and how to protect themselves in the future.
Here are three effects of identity theft for car buyers:
1. Poor Credit
When identity thieves are through using your credit card or even applying for new lines of credit, blemishes on your credit history might result in a poor credit score. You could spend time and resources trying to challenge these negative marks on your credit score. This could leave you with less money to buy your dream car.
2. Loan Rejection
One of the worst-case scenarios for purchasing a car is getting rejected for a loan. With a low credit score, you might not be approved for a loan because creditors see you as too much of a risk based on your credit report.
3. Higher Interest
Although your credit score might not be low enough to get rejected, the interest rate for the loan could be higher than you anticipated. Car buyers with bad credit can expect to pay up to 18 percent interest in California, according to Edmunds. With a higher interest rate, this could mean more money spent on monthly payments for the car.
Since consumers can have bad credit without knowing it, it's important to request a credit report once per year to review their credit history for any suspicious activity, according to the FBI. You can also work to avoid identity theft by guarding your personal information online and over the phone, only giving it to authorized people or those you contact first.