What can the government do? Investigate and penalize.
One of the last things you may think about when running your business, and likely your biggest surprise, is receiving a notice of investigation from the government. The State and Federal governments regularly open investigations or motor vehicle businesses for compliance and consumer violations. These are not to be taken lightly.
Watch this video for an introduction to government investigations.
Below is a transcript of the video:
Now, we’re going to talk about government investigations. The acronym government organizations that I talked about before, in addition to the IRS which I don’t think I mentioned in the government entities video, all have the ability to investigate a dealer for the Georgia Secretary of State that normally comes from customer complaints. They will open an investigation, request certain documents, perhaps request the dealer or owner of the business to sit for a deposition and provide information to the secretary of state, who will then investigate, most of the time, under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act.
Government investigations also come about from audits like the Used Motor Vehicle Dealer Board Audit, where they have their auditors drive around the state of Georgia checking on dealers for things like signage, entryways, buyers’ guides on vehicles, and other things posted in the dealership. They’ll randomly audit for that kind of stuff. Then the IRS or the federal government will sometimes investigate based on reports, reporting, and information they receive relating to that. These are serious investigations.
I was once called by a client who had maybe five or six different organizations show up in a coordinated effort at one time on their lot. There were maybe 10 cars on the lot with investigators in each car. They busted in with a warrant and just started going through files out of nowhere. That doesn’t happen very often, but it can sometimes happen. In addition, the Secretary of State will often open an investigation where they’ve received a number of complaints about violations like overcharging ETR fees, improper advertising, adding dock fees to an advertised price, or things like that.
We’ll get into more detail on those topics in future videos. Government investigations are a real thing and they do happen, so be aware. A dealer should make sure that they are crossing T’s, dotting I’s, reporting properly, and maintaining and complying with government regulations.
For more videos on the Georgia Car Law Authority series, please visit www.georgiacarlaw.com.
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