The letter from Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. to the state's 425 licensed new-car dealers spells out a list of "most frequent violations," including:
Advertising that uses such terms as "direct factory outlet" or "factory sale" to suggest that a "special relationship" exists between a dealer and a car manufacturer when no such relationship exists.
Claiming that savings are available because the dealer has acquired a large volume of cars at a discount from a manufacturer. The attorney general's office said most manufacturers sell their cars to dealers for the same price, regardless of volume.
Advertising that a particular vehicle is available at a particular price when it is not available -- the bait-and-switch routine.
Telling shoppers that a car may be bought for "no money down" when initial costs such as taxes, tag fees and freight charges must be paid by the buyer when the contract is signed.
Advertising that fails to disclose "precisely the options and special equipment that are included with a vehicle at the advertised price."
Advertising guaranteed minimum trade-ins when the lowest price at which the dealer is prepared to sell a vehicle will be increased to compensate the dealer for a low-value trade-in.
Advertising in small print any "important disclosures that attempt to modify the message of the more prominent portions of the advertisements."
Claiming incentives such as rebates or below-market interest rates when "the lowest price at which the dealer is prepared to sell a vehicle is being increased to compensate . . . for the cost of the incentive." A dealer can advertise such incentives only if he clearly discloses the relationship between the incentive and the lowest price at which the vehicle will sell.
Advertising cars at or near cost when the price still includes significant profit for the dealer, such as dealer rebates held back at the time of the transaction.
Allowing a consumer to take a car before final settlement without informing him in a "separate prominent notice" that a binding contract does not exist and he may return the car if dissatisfied.
Failing to include all disclosures required under the federal Truth-in-Lending Act or the federal Truth-in-Leasing Act.