Motor Vehicle Service Notification: Is It A Scam Or Not?

Have you gotten a motor vehicle service notification and unsure if it is a scam? Here's how to spot fake notices and what you need to do.

Most vehicle owners have received a Motor Car Care Letter at some point.

These are usually sent by automakers, certified dealers, or third-party warranty providers. Their purpose is to inform you when your car’s due for service or has coverage expiring soon.

Interestingly, the most asked question related to them is, “are Motor Vehicle Service Notifications a scam?” After all, if you haven’t noticed any issues with your car, do you really need to take it in for service?

The short answer is no; an actual Motor Vehicle Service Notification letter is not a scam. However, fraudsters have used fakes to take advantage of unsuspecting car owners.

In this manual, I will provide additional information regarding Motor Vehicle Service Notifications, including their purpose, reason for sending, and methods to identify counterfeit ones.

I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about Motor Vehicle Service Notifications, including:

  • What do I do if I receive a suspicious Motor Vehicle Service Notification?
  • Can a Motor Vehicle Service Notification be ignored?
  • Is it safe to click on links in Motor Vehicle Service Notifications?
  • How do I report a suspicious Motor Vehicle Service Notification?

Let’s get started.

Table of ContentsShow

A Real Motor Vehicle Service Notification Is Not A Scam

Motor Vehicle Service Notice

What is a Motor Vehicle Service Notification?

These often come in the form of a letter, email, or text sent by the automaker (Ford, Buick, Chevrolet, Audi, etc.) or a certified dealership when your car is due for recall repairs or routine maintenance, like an oil change, tire rotation, or brake check.

You may also get one from a third-party warranty provider if your car’s coverage (factory or aftermarket) is soon expiring.

What information will a Motor Vehicle Service Notification have on it? Expect some or all of the following:

  • Your name and address
  • Make, model, and year of your vehicle
  • Official seal
  • Contact phone number
  • Vehicle service records
  • Warranty expiration date

Think of a real Motor Vehicle Service Notification as a subscription expiration reminder. Yes, it’s basically a marketing tactic that’s also good for your car.

How The Fake Motor Vehicle Service Notification Scam Works

Motor Vehicle Service Notification A Scam Letter
An example of a scam letter.

The reason you’ll find so many mentions of Motor Vehicle Service Notifications being scams is that some of them are. Fraudsters have used these as an avenue for swindling unsuspecting car owners.

One example goes like this, you receive a letter, email, or text saying something akin to “Urgent, coverage on your vehicle will soon expire. Call this number.”

The goal is for the car owner to call in or click the email link and provide payment details to extend their coverage. You may notice your name, address, and even the make and model of your vehicle, which can make the notification seem more legit.

Thankfully, there are a few details you can watch for that should help you spot a fake from a real one.

How To Spot A Fake Motor Vehicle Service Notification

Checklist
  • Verify the sender’s contact details: If sent by email or text, check the sender’s address or phone and cross-check them online or call the number. If you can’t find them online or nobody picks up, watch out. 
  • Check for typos or a lack of specifics: Fake notifications often contain grammatical errors or awkward phrasing. You may also notice a lack of specifics, like seeing “Dear vehicle owner” instead of your name and unique car details.
  • Beware of high-pressure tactics: If the notification urges urgent action or threatens that your car is in imminent danger, it may be a fake.
  • Check the service center’s reputation: Do your research and look up the service center’s reviews and ratings. Fake centers may have little or no online presence.
  • Verify any incentives: If the notification offers a discount or promotion, verify the offer through the dealer or automaker’s official website or phone number.
  • Don’t share personal info: Legit notifications will never ask for personal data, like credit card or social security numbers or login details.
  • Be wary of unsolicited notifications: If you did not recently visit a dealer or service center, an unsolicited notification may be a red flag.
  • Use common sense: If the notification seems too good to be true or doesn’t match your vehicle’s service or warranty history, it could very well be a fake.

FAQ: Motor Vehicle Service Notifications

What Do I Do If I Receive A Suspicious Motor Vehicle Service Notification?

If you receive a questionable Motor Vehicle Service Notification, do not click on any links or download any attachments.

Instead, verify its authenticity by contacting your local dealership or manufacturer directly. They can confirm if the notification is legitimate and advise on the next steps if it is not.

Can A Motor Vehicle Service Notification Be Ignored?

Ignoring a motor vehicle service notification is not recommended, especially if it is related to a safety recall.

Even if you suspect the notification is fake, it is better to err on the side of caution and contact your dealership or manufacturer to verify its authenticity.

Is It Safe To Click On Links In Motor Vehicle Service Notifications?

Clicking on links unsolicited Motor Vehicle Service Notifications can be risky as they may lead to fraudulent websites or infect your device with malware.

It is safer to verify the authenticity of the notification first and visit the manufacturer’s official website directly rather than clicking on any external.

How Do I Report A Suspicious Motor Vehicle Service Notification?

If you receive a Motor Vehicle Service Notification that doesn’t feel right, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint.

You can also forward the suspicious email to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) at reportphishing@apwg.org for investigation and action.

Don’t Fall for the Fake Motor Vehicle Service Notification Scam

A genuine Motor Vehicle Service Notification can be a useful reminder to get your car serviced or that your warranty is about to expire. 

Sadly, some fraudulent service notifications are designed to trick you into sharing personal data or paying for unnecessary repairs.

To be secure, you should always verify the legitimacy of any notification by contacting the manufacturer or dealership directly.

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Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.