You gotta hand it to ByteDance. The algorithm for TikTok is an incredibly powerful thing. No matter what part of society you occupy, TikTok will curate a near-endless time suck of extremely watchable, borderline addictive stream of bite-sized videos. Notice, the keyword “watchable,” not “good,” because for every well-crafted piece of content, there are hundreds of videos that are, really, really bad. These videos go beyond the space of unfunny, unkind, or cringe, and veer straight into the misinformation territory, as the app seems to have a unique penchant for funneling misinformation straight into its users’ brains.
Its latest bit of misinformation is a trend amongst car TikTok that somehow, down payments for vehicles are actually illegal. If you’ve paid a downpayment for any vehicle, you’re legally entitled to get your money back and keep the car, they say. Uh, what?
Learn your rights! Protect yourself from fraud! ???? Instagram: therealfatdanny #generationalwealth #financialliteracy #financialfreedom #wealthconversation #consumerlaw
♬ TEENXDESTROYLONELYOPIUMRICKOWENS prod. Iatvanum – BRAVO_ONE_TWO
When I saw the first video featuring what I would quickly learn was a trending idea, I thought it was a biting satire in which auto finance is mixed with Sovereign Citizen-esque antics. I thought it was satirizing the folks who want absurd terms for auto loans and deploy made-up “gotcha” scenarios trying to get free stuff from a dealership. Yet, when I read through the comments, I started to get the gist, that no, these folks espousing this in earnest, and he wasn’t the only one, either.
It is against the law to have to put down a down payment for a vehicle #consumerlaw #fyp #howtobuyacar #carhacks #newcar #nodownpayment #foryou
Through the magic of ByteDance’s scary good algorithm, it has been injecting doses of random car videos amongst edits of Pinkpantheress, and Terri Joe in my For You trending page. Nearly every third car-related video the algorithm sends me had something to do with the “down payments are illegal” trend.
TikTok content creators are citing a specific federal statute called 15 U.S. Code § 1662 – Advertising of downpayments and installments. Specifically, section 2. “No advertisement to aid, promote, or assist directly or indirectly any extension of consumer credit may state….that a specified downpayment is required in connection with any extension of consumer credit unless the creditor usually and customarily arranges down payments in that amount.”
Then, they’ll cite another statute (often 15 U.S. Code § 1635) claiming that it’s illegal for dealerships to ask for cash at all, and if they do, you’re entitled to get that money back and keep the car. It’s very reminiscent of the idea that “if you give birth at Disneyland, your kid gets a free lifetime pass.”
Like choosing to respawn at Disneyland, what you’re seeing on social media is all a bunch of made-up nonsense, based on something that isn’t true. These TikTokers are ignoring the second part of the statute, which says that down payments are fine if it is customary for the creditor to do so. Many banks that work with lower-credit customers traditionally will require a certain percentage down on the car. Also, outside of subprime customers, oftentimes down payments aren’t part of the vehicle’s loan contract. If the bank’s approved financing for the vehicle’s final purchase doesn’t cover the full amount, the rest of that cash is coming from your pocket, bucko. Putting money down toward the vehicle’s price to either pay the difference left by a loan that can’t satisfy the balance or putting a big down payment so the bank issues a smaller loan with a smaller payment—you know, what most of us would call just “car buying”—is a concept that seems to be lost on these folks.
Now, almost anyone with an iota of common sense, or anyone who took eighth-grade Junior Achievement financial literacy classes knows that these folks are speaking complete untruths. For many prudent internet denizens, videos that sound too good to be true, complete with random smiling folks who can’t really explain their processes or show proof of it working for them shouldn’t pass your smell test. Most of these folks who make these crap videos are selling get-rich-quick courses on their pages, so I’m not even sure if they even believe their own bullshit.
But, it seems like the trend, alongside ByteDance’s algorithm, has done a great job getting this terrible misinformation to the most vulnerable people. Pawing through the comments, the promises made by this misinformation attracted folks who may have been the victim of a bad deal, like a spot delivery gone wrong, which has left car buyers in embarrassing and sometimes terrifying predicaments. It has migrated out of TikTok, into Youtube, and even Twitter. It’s made real people make a complete fool of themselves, in real life. A woman has gone semi-viral on TikTok trying to outfox a salesman, claiming down payments are illegal. Obviously, that doesn’t work, and she asked to leave the Honda dealership. She’s been stitched, duetted, and lampooned on the app, but that hasn’t stopped the misinformation, or commenters who are hog-headedly defending her logic.
Listen, car dealerships and auto lenders can definitely be predatory places, saddling good people with needlessly bad loans and shit vehicles. However, this ain’t how they screw you over. Down payments are not illegal, and they’re beneficial to reducing your credit burden if you choose to buy a vehicle with a loan.
Don’t take financial advice from random content creators on TikTok, because they are sure as hell ain’t giving out any good advice on how to hold your head high and come out with a good deal when buying a car.
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That’s it, I’m cancelling my subscription to TikTok!
“You have my SS number and you already got paid with that”.. that right there is SovCit crap 100%. And as others pointed out this, no matter the scale, is dangerous stuff. It’s literally like what Ouji boards supposedly were during the Satanic Panic, a path down a dark road. SovCits have killed police for pulling them over, and Southern Poverty Law Center reports SovCit militias went from 149 to 1270 between 2008 to 2011, they might be a joke, but they are not funny. All “law” references are taken out of context, the conspiracies can be really far reaching. This goes beyond Dunning-Kruger it’s highly motivated and/or highly delusional wishful thinking that can lead to very real violence.
And, dangerously, if you start seeing a little SovCit stuff show up in your feed, it’s probably easing you in. The slow boil is a known tactic among those trying to convert people to extremes. There are even design and aesthetic accounts that use the occasional white nationalist hashtag so that things start slowly showing up on the feeds of people who aren’t looking for it. Then they give some stuff that seems harmless, or even helpful first. (This is also how Scientology recruits–they offer free life skills classes that help people who are struggling. It looks like Scientology is beneficial, so you spend money on classes that don’t help, but you think the next one will. Soon, you are in too deep.)
Someone seeing this on their feed is probably pretty close to seeing bullshit about not having a license or registration because you’re “travelling,” not “driving.” Then the things about admiralty courts. And the next step is probably militia stuff.
If they convince someone that the car dealers are screwing them with illegal down payments, they can convince them the government is allowing it for nefarious reasons. The people who fall for it and end up losing their car get angry. The system screwed them, they think. Now, the SovCit folks are on their side and all the rational people are against them. Even kind people trying to help them can look like they are part of the crooked system.
The law quoted doesn’t say anything to regulate down payments at all – it regulates ADVERTISING down payments. Unfortunately it’s in legalese, but what it’s trying to say is “Don’t tell me there’s no down payment unless you really mean it.” (i.e. most people will qualify for zero down) All it’s trying to avoid is advertising that says zero down, but you have to be bill gates or there’s definitely a down payment. That’s why you see so much “As low as 0% APR and as low as zero down” advertising.
I’m not entirely surprised the people on tiktok who are trying to push this nonsense are doing so with mopars that probably carry a 1400 dollar a month payment on
Young adults are toadstools now anyways. Let them follow TIC TOC trends and look like complete idiots…fine by me
Allowing people to fester in misinformation wastelands then expecting them to make good decisions later in life or when voting for an elected official is a sure fire way to societal destruction, in my opinion. I just don’t see how we can sit by and allow “platforms” to not take any responsibility about the patently false “content” that they precisely direct toward people with their algorithms. Sure, they didn’t make this post or any of the QAnon stuff either but they are sure shopping it around for view/clicks/likes. Somebody somewhere is monetizing this and we should all be pissed off about it.
Young adults have always been and always will be toadstools. We were toadstools when we were that age, our grandkids will also be toadstools at that stage in life. The only thing that changes is the ways in which the toadstoolery manifests iteslf.
Looks like the bots from the Autopian found a new gig.
About a year ago I was at a dealership and I overheard another customer tell her sales rep that she would never put a down payment on a car. Something like, “That’s just free money to your dealership. That money doesn’t go to the car.” He was very polite and told her that it absolutely lowered the loan amount. Her counter was, “See? That’s double talk. You admit it goes to the loan but not the car.” To his credit he gave up and and walked her through all the other details. She and her husband happily agreed to $1100 monthly payments. I wondered how they got this information. Reading something on the internet has become the new common knowledge.
It would have been better if the sales rep said “Maam, you clearly don’t need to be financing anything right now.” and showed her the door. It’s very likely she would have gone elsewhere with her business, but *maybe* it would have woken her up? Maybe even the day that the car gets repo’d because the cash flow couldn’t cover the $1100 monthly note and she asks “Why did this happen?” and remembers the person who *wouldn’t* sell her a car?
This, among several reasons, is why I’m not in sales. I just can’t willingly dupe people or watch as they dupe themselves.
“You just say Sir, I do not have to give you a down payment because I already gave you my social security number and that is my down payment and y’all are already gettin paid from it.”
“Now watch the car salesman freeze up.”
That part is probably true.
I bet he will freeze up. Because he just realized he’s dealing with a lunatic and this sale isn’t worth it.
Kevin, I really appreciate these consumer advocacy pieces you do. I liked the one you did about buying gas with Klarna a while back, too. It’s easy to laugh at the financially illiterate, critical-thinking-deficient people who get sucked into stuff like this, but they’re still real people getting real screwed.
Like a lot of older millennials, I tend to kinda pick and choose what bits of our modern technological landscape I want to get involved with. For me, that means I pretty much don’t use social media, and I still pay for stuff with debit and credit cards rather than through apps and whatnot. As I see it, this reduces the amount of technobullshit I have to deal with on a daily basis. It works for me.
So I don’t even normally hear about these types of scams, misinformation campaigns, and predatory practices. That’s fine most of the time, but I feel like over time I risk becoming the confused old man who picks up the unknown number calling his phone and gives the nice lady on the other side his credit card info to make a donation to the State Police Widows and Orphans Fund or whatever. It’s good to keep abreast of the new ways people are trying to screw me, because they’re coming up all the time and if I don’t keep my head
on a swivel one of ’em is sure to get me someday.
Plus, there are people getting fucked by this shit right as we speak, and people with platforms oughta put the word out as much as they can. Thank you. You’re doing angels’ work.
Although I do not work at a Buy Here Pay Here lot, at least once a week I get asked “what’s the down payment?”
(This is far and away the dumbest question you can ask a sales consultant.)
My answer every time is “none, unless the bank requires it.”
Tiktok allows the scammers because they are part of the scam. This will be an even bigger issue when their looks to good to be true scam EVS start arriving. No mention of slave labor. No mention of all the Malware they create and attach. But just like people who believe the TikTok Schlock. We have the EVs are the one and only salvation for our planet so bow down to our Chinese overlords and buy a 2 ton infected computer you can drive. These people who preach Chinese EVs are worse than the Muskites. They complain Musk doesnt pay employees enuf, even though its well over 6 figures. But slave labor is okay?
TikTok is cognitive cancer, and anyone who pollutes their vital essences with it will eventually succumb to its corruption. To quote Lord Byron:
“..Ye shall not thus elude me:
By a power deeper than all yet urged,
A tyrant-spell, which had its birthplace in a star condemn’d,
The burning wreck of a demolish’d world,
A wandering hell in the eternal space;
By the strong curse which is upon my soul,
The thought which is within me and around me,
I do compel ye to my will…”
I mean you can read ‘Manfred’ yourself.
But I ain’t touching TikTok with a ten foot wrench. Nope.
Welp, that was the dumbest thing I’ve watched all year.
Don’t worry, it’s only February.
Actually, worry. It’s only February.
I should make a TikTok about how it’s illegal for me NOT to own a Paris-Dakar 959.
Hear that, youths? Kids? Non-weather-related scourges of my lawn? Y’all better get saving up. You’re all breaking the law so long as you’re not buying me a Paris-Dakar 959.
If your credit allows you, it’s slightly better for your credit score to take a loan out for the entire amount and then pay down the loan with the down-payment rather than just giving it straight to the dealer (assuming there’s no early payment penalties), because, to the credit agencies, it looks like you have paid down the balance of the loan rather than using the whole loan. Credit score ratings are weird like that.
However, I don’t like to do down-payments if I can help it (especially on leases) because if the car is totaled in an accident and you have gap insurance (you should make sure your policy has gap insurance if buying a new vehicle) then you won’t own anything, but if you have paid down your loan or lease too much early on, you will be out that down-payment money.
Don’t you have to pay for gap insurance? I guess it all comes down to risk tolerance, but for me I’d rather take the (very) small risk that my car will be totaled and keep that gap insurance money in my pocket.
Gap insurance has always come included with my GM leases. I’m not sure if it’s the same with others. It’s something like $20-$40 a year with your insurance company if you are purchasing (just don’t get it from the dealer… they charge way more). I didn’t bother with GAP when purchasing my truck in late 2021, because the depreciation was so low due to insane used car prices, and I didn’t put anything down because my car loan rate through my credit union was 1.75%.
But, why would somebody even want to live in a world where down payments are illegal? That would mean financing 100% of the purchase price every time – who the hell is out there demanding that they be required to take on more debt than they otherwise would?
The Internet was supposed to be a place for checking sports scores and stock quotes, sharing recipes, and writing our penpals in Czechoslovakia
I’ve somehow ended up on RepoMan TikTok recently, complete with people trying to drive their cars off the wheel-lift after the repo man has already grabbed it.
I assume the Venn diagram of people following this advice and people not paying their car loans is a circle.
Thank goodness I get my financial advice, along with all of my other advice, exclusively from The Autopian.
The Autopian has grown to be so much more than a simple parenting blog.
I eat all my spaghetti in the shower now thanks to the Autopian!
What’s next? Some of Jason’s articles aren’t strictly true?
This can’t be
Wait…so you’re telling me that misinformation spread on a social media app and caused a bunch of overconfident, gullible people to do dumb shit? What’s next?! Are you going to tell me that Toyota makes reliable engines or that enthusiasts like manual cars?!? GTFOH
@NebraskaStig, Your comment was not accepted due to insufficient funds in your Autopian account.
At the beginning of your next comment, please include your bank account number, bank name, PIN, email address on file with your bank, mother’s maiden name, shoe size, year-make-and-model of your grandfather’s third car, the name of the parakeet and/or hamster you had in the third grade, and the name of your favorite Rolling Stones song.
This seems real convenient if you’re a dealer or bank who stands to make more money off of customers who finance the whole purchase price at higher rates with longer loan terms.
Nah, they these idiots think you can agree to a massive down-payment, then spring this “legal trap” on the salesperson. At that point they’re supposed to let you walk out with just the payments without paying the down-payment you agreed to.
I had not run across this particular breed of buffoonery. I did recently run across someone basically claiming the entirety of California’s traffic laws only apply to government vehicles because of a bizarre misunderstanding of the section specifically stating the law applies to government vehicles except for specific exemptions.
“The provisions of this code applicable to the drivers of vehicles upon the highways apply to the drivers of all vehicles while engaged in the course of employment by this State, any political subdivision thereof, any municipal corporation, or any district, including authorized emergency vehicles subject to those exemptions granted such authorized emergency vehicles in this code.”
The law is complex and easy to misunderstand, and people think they are clever. It runs the risk of getting people into trouble.
At least with the down payments, I understand how someone could think they were proven correct. They insisted to a dealer that they would not pay a down payment, so they just got that added to their loan. They didn’t understand that they still owed the same total amount (and would pay more interest), so they thought they hit the jackpot.
Yeah, FYI, those people?
Immediately run away and warn the local government. That’s textbook ‘Sovereign Citizen’ terrorist crap.
Which is exactly that: a bunch of people thinking they are oh so very clever and figured out that names aren’t real and laws don’t apply to them, and that’s why you can’t prosecute them for getting into a shootout with the police who were pulling them over for fake plates. Also because they have this 9,500 page court filing that proves the government is totally illegitimate.
They are extremely dangerous and should be treated as the imminent threat they are.
Yeah, it was certainly a sovereign citizen talking point, but it seemed to have escaped their usual sphere of influence. Which is very concerning.
I live in a state with a LOT of them. Which was a bad decision on my part.
I think there should be a required license to use any social media app or comments section on any website. A requirement being an IQ test. If you don’t score a certain level IQ, you don’t get a license to read or post to the Internet.
No wonder you couldn’t find a clever name.
Uhhh…some of the people who would pass your hypothetical IQ requirement are the exact reason you want to use that as a gatekeeper in the first place.
Problem being some of the smartest people I know are inversely also the dumbest. Meaning they would amaze on the IQ test, but fail anything attempting to test common sense.
Digital literacy needs to be core required curriculum going forward. It’s too late to convince my mom that copying and pasting a post won’t prevent facebook from owning your photos and having royalty rights to any screenplays your children write….but at least we can teach kids how to understand what is reality online….
I am old enough to have gone through high school during the era of: “You can’t use the Internet as a source in a research paper because anybody can write anything on there, and you can’t trust the accuracy of anything you read.”
It is baffling to me that some of the *very same people* who instituted those policies are now reposting nonsense simply because they “read about it online”. It’s bizarre. It’s as if we’re collectively moving backwards when it comes to critical thinking.
I was a high school debater during those years (and a coach thereafter), and was amazed how many competitors would source things like “according to randomfact.com”…..
A few years ago I was reading through an Army Corps of Engineers study on flood zones in my city. They pulled census figures into the report and identified the source as Wikipedia. This was a published report, not a prepublish draft out for a proofread.
I’d say that’s not so bad…wikipedia itself isn’t an instant ‘invalid’.
Especially when it comes to easily sourced census numbers, the wiki page likely had the actual source referenced.
As to why they didn’t reference that in the first place…
My research methods classes in college made this point repeatedly: Wikipedia, by definition, is a tertiary source.
You strive for all primary sources, although secondary sources are certainly valid. If you are citing a tertiary source, you need to not do that and go find the secondary source that its based on. This is why you don’t see the Encyclopedia Britannica cited very often. It’s like playing telephone to get your answer for no reason other than laziness.
I would have gotten a big grade reduction, if not a fail, on any paper I turned in that cited Wikipedia.
Now, this was in the mid-2000s, so standards may have changed and I may just be clutching my pearls at this point. But I still think that line of reasoning is valid.
I think the value of Wikipedia is finding sources, since for the most part their sources are cited. But citing Wikipedia itself is a bad idea.
Wonder if the new comment updates will include a facepalm emoji….
Increased gullibility as the mind ages is a long studied phenomenon. It’s not that they’ve forgotten to be cautious, they’ve lost the ability to distinguish credibility reliably. Some people avoid it, but most are impacted to varying degrees.
Depending on your age, you’ve probably got a few decades until younger people make the same style “why are they idiots now?” comments while thinking about you.
Tiktok BS isn’t targeted at the old folks I don’t think. And by the number of folks who should be young enough to know better posting facebook memes about non-existent “closest moon ever” phenomena, how any month with 5 (insert day of week here), 5 (insert day of week here), and 5 (insert day of week here) is a lucky month that occurs only once every blah blah blah…..it isn’t about age. It’s about literacy in a digital age. But yeah, still too late for my mom….
While I haven’t studied it, I’m assuming it’s the same reason my grandma let two guys posing as Ameritech technicians into her house ~25 years ago. One distracted her outside while the other tried to break into her lockbox.
She did that twice.
But in this case, it’s the older folks shaking their heads at the younger ones. I think that TikTok viewership has a directly inverse relationship to age once you get past age 20 or so.
I’m having flashbacks to using card catalogs, photocopying pages from books and the sound of the Due Date stamp hitting the cover of the 15 books I had to check out.
Microfilm. I graduated shortly before everything in the college library was digitized, so despite not even being 40 I remember sorting through rolls of microfilm and turning the wheels on the viewer until I got to the pages I needed. I should go back to campus some time to find out what they did with all the space that the microfilm used to take up.
The media (microfiche and microfilm) are probably still there since most of that stuff was never digitized and the part that was typically requires per page charges or expensive subscriptions to access.
They are likely down to just a few machines that can read them though.
Just remember that these are young people who grew up with an IPad as a babysitter and whose parents are just as likely to believe everything they read on Facebook (I’m a teacher – if I had a dollar for every seemingly intelligent adult that has asked me about fucking litter boxes in school bathrooms…). We’ve rolled out one program after another on media and internet literacy, but there’s no real competing with a well-funded algorithm and the cheap high of the next notification or outrage post.
Don’t believe a goddamn thing you see on THE INTERNET.
I believe that quote was from Abraham Lincoln, or Ben Franklin
Marilyn Monroe actually
She said it, but I am pretty sure she was quoting Churchill.
Oh, are you one of those people who think Churchill was real?
Of course Churchill was real! Who do you think they named the Churchill Downs race track after if Churchill didn’t exist? Duh!
I think you were watching the wrong TikToks.
The racetrack is named after the cigar (The Churchill), which was first produced by Dutch monks in their hill-side abbey. The Downs part came because the racetrack is flat and not on a hill, obviously.
I think the Churchill you’re thinking of is Churchill, Manitoba? That’s definitely real.
Haha! Double Whoosh!
You noob, it was Einstein!
But I saw this advice on the internet, so I shouldn’t believe it, so that really means I should believe *EVERYTHING!* I see on the internet, right?
WELL I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!!!!
How about a slight edit to the title…
Don’t believe a goddamn thing you see on TikTok.
This, right here.
If it came from TikTok, it’s almost certainly garbage.
Don’t believe a goddamn thing you see