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I'm an international student in the US. Three weeks ago I decided to buy a used car. I found a great option at an official manufacturer dealership. I wanted to buy it fully for cash. After a little negotiation with the manager about the price, he told that they could only finance the car otherwise either there won't be a discount and additional services, or they won't sell the vehicle at all. I tried to explain to them that I got SSN just a couple of months ago, so I don't have a good credit history for such a purchase even though my credit score is 700+.

They tried to assure me that it's possible and we have to give it a shot. Manager asked me about my info and SSN. The next thing is that they asked for Temporary Resident Card. I answered that I don't have such one since I'm an international student. They were shocked that I have SSN but not a temporary resident card and told me, "Why you didn't tell us earlier?". How do I suppose if they didn't ask? As a result, they said to me that it wouldn't be possible to finance a car with me and in the end agreed to sell a car for cash.

Later, I found out four hard inquiries on my report because of them. I might sign some documents which allow them to make a request, but such story happened just in an hour, and there were so many documents, so probably I missed something because of conversations with them.

My question is, will it be legal to make a complaint about these inquiries to financial institutions about such case or it's entirely my fault?

  • I'm sure you know this already, but car salespeople have a reputation of being incredibly "persuasive" to the point that many people would consider their typical practices to be unethical. Some will not hesitate to lie to your face. If a car salesperson tells you something that makes you uncomfortable, or asks you to sign something you're not sure about, walk away. There's always another car at another dealership. Or you can do research on your own time, with no pressure, and go back. Walking away is the most powerful tool you have, don't be afraid of using it. – dwizum Jun 25 at 13:09
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I am unsure why there were 4 hard inquires from the same dealer in one day. It isn't like your history was going to drastically change in an hour.

But in any case the credit scoring systems will treat a similar type of inquiry from similar companies as being one hard pull. They assume that when trying to get a car loan you would have in a few weeks time multiple pulls by your bank and several auto dealers. They also treat multiple inquires by mortgage lenders as the consumer looking for the best loan terms.

The dealership always tries to get a customer to pick the financing. They make more money this way. Not only do they collect interest, but they also make it harder for the buyer to negotiate a price. This is because they can also adjust the down payment, rate and length of loan to make the payments fit your budget, and hope you don't notice that you end up paying more in interest.

Now back to the 4 inquiries. Are they from the same dealer, or were they trying to shop your loan to different third parties? That should have been in the paperwork you signed. If you don't have a copy of the paperwork, then it is hard to know what they actually asked for you to approve.

If you think that you were treated unfairly, then look at your states website and see if they have a description of your consumer rights. The federal government may also be able to help. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has information about financial products, credit reports and the like. You may also want to file a complaint through them. You can also look through their database of complaints for similar complaints.

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