The Industry's Leading Source For F&I, Sales And Technology


When Greedies Meet Stupids

Dealer compliance expert offers a crash course in detecting and preventing identity theft by fake car buyers and unprincipled employees.

March 2018, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Gil Van Over - Also by this author

One day, a favorite general manager asked, “Who wins when a stupid criminal meets a greedy salesman?” Knowing him as I do, I knew he was just exercising a pregnant pause before delivering the punchline. So I kept my yap tight. Sure enough, he raised his voice to a fever pitch any carny would appreciate and answered his own query: “The stupid criminal always wins. The greedy salesman is just as stupid.”

This GM was definitely on point regarding identity thieves and car salespeople. One of the age-old red flags that you might be dealing with an ID thief is a person who agrees to an outrageous gross and buys every single F&I product. After all, she or he never intends to pay for it. More greedies than stupids, right?

I once co-hosted an auto dealer symposium. One panel’s topic dealt with identity theft. The panelists included an assistant U.S. attorney general, a postal inspector, and two county deputies. They all actively investigate and prosecute identity theft.

"Their first major point was identity thieves who attempt to commit the crime in person, particularly at a car dealership, are the stupid criminals. The risk of getting caught is just too great. The smart ones ply their trade online and through credit cards where the risk is much lower."

Their first major point was identity thieves who attempt to commit the crime in person, particularly at a car dealership, are the stupid criminals. The risk of getting caught is just too great. The smart ones ply their trade online and through credit cards where the risk is much lower.

The next point driven home was that these stupid criminals generally make mistakes that could have been detected with just a little bit of patience and due diligence by the employees involved in the transaction.

Finally, they shared a few novel tips that all dealerships could implement to improve their identity theft deterrence program. They were mostly common-sense practices that most dealers employ today. A couple of the tips, though, were insightful and novel.

We learned, for example, that each state has a liquor licensing board or division. Most of these boards have expert trainers on staff whose primary job is to train bar and liquor store employees on how to spot fake driver’s licenses. The experts indicated that the trainers would be just as willing to come to your dealership. One simple trick: a simple little UV light that can pick up the hologram on a driver’s license.

We also learned that the U.S. Postal Service produced a video on identity theft that can be the centerpiece of a training session. It can be viewed online at

Although you have probably already implemented the following tips in your identity theft-deterrence process, they still bear worth repeating:

• Cleaning crew: Absolutely limit access to areas containing your customers’ personal, nonpublic information from cleaning crews. There are documented cases of janitors stealing and selling information obtained after hours from car dealerships.
• Background checks: One case I worked on as an expert witness involved an identity thief who had been caught, prosecuted, and served time. As soon as he got out, he went to work at a car dealership as a porter.
• Drug testing: Many ID theft investigators comment that methamphetamine addicts prefer identity theft to generate the cash to feed their habit. Random drug tests may cull a meth head from your payroll.
• Pay a finder’s fee: Consider establishing a reward system for employees who detect and prevent identity theft from taking place at your business.
• Thumbprints: Implement a process to obtain thumbprints from every customer as a condition of the sale and for their protection. The experts stated during the panel discussion that they have been able to catch a few criminals thanks to thumbprints. Dealers who have implemented this policy report a few customers immediately walking. After further review, however, they believe they prevented a crime.
• NADA title manual: The NADA has a titling manual available for purchase. A section of the manual is devoted to descriptions of driver’s licenses from each state. You should circulate this section to all your sales and F&I staff members.
• Legible copies: Get a good quality photocopy of the driver’s license. Some dealers blow the copy up by 200%.
• Review your grosses: You should conduct a periodic, systematic review of your front- and back-end grosses on a transactional basis. Making a $10,000 front-end gross and another $7,000 in F&I may deserve congrats, but a pink slip might be more appropriate if everyone overlooked the obvious identity theft.

There’s nothing wrong with having aggressive salespeople. Just make sure to put the controls in place to keep the aggressive from becoming greedily stupid.

Good luck and good selling!

Gil Van Over is the executive director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE) and the founder and president of gvo3 & Associates. His new book, “Automotive Compliance in a Digital World,” will be available at NADA 2018. Email him at


  1. 1. Rick McCormick [ March 10, 2018 @ 08:41AM ]

    Great stub Gil! I’ll be making sure all the dealerships I work with read this and follow it’s suggestions.

  2. 2. Rick McCormick [ March 10, 2018 @ 08:42AM ]

    Great stuff! lol A lesson not to text and drive!


Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  


So Here's the Deal

Ronald J. Reahard
(Video) Selling Eight Products Without Losing the Customer

By Ronald J. Reahard
Is offering eight products a bad idea? The magazine’s resident F&I pro says it depends on the producer and the presentation.

He Had a Goal: Remembering David Ressler

By Ronald J. Reahard
Sometimes it’s not the teacher who leaves a lasting impression, it’s the student. The magazine’s resident F&I pro says goodbye to one trainee he will never forget.

[Video] Selling to Short-Term Owners

By Ronald J. Reahard

(Video) Selling High-Mileage VSC Plans

By Ronald J. Reahard

Done Deal

Gregory Arroyo
Who Will Take Up the CFPB's Torch?

By Gregory Arroyo
The CFPB’s acting director tells state regulators there will no longer be ‘regulation by enforcement,” but the editor believes there’s a long list of regulators waiting to take up the torch.

Military Lending Act Guidance: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Gregory Arroyo
Thanks could be in order when the industry gets together for NADA 2018, as the editor hears that a resolution to the Military Lending Act controversy isn’t far off.

Resolution Needed

By Gregory Arroyo

Rescinding the CFPB’s Auto Finance Guidance

By Gregory Arroyo

Mad Marv

Marv Eleazer
Proper Deal Structure Moves Mountains

By Marv Eleazer
His Madness has a simple but powerful piece of advice for newbie F&I managers and those struggling to adapt to the way finance sources are rating credit-challenged car buyers.

Show Us Some Love

By Marv Eleazer
His Madness has a message for dealers walking the show floor at NADA 2018: Don’t forget about the people who drive your business.

Chargeback Prevention

By Marv Eleazer

Your F&I Backup Plan

By Marv Eleazer

On the Point

Jim Ziegler
Sharpen Your Survival Skills

By Jim Ziegler
‘Da Man’ has a plan you can use to survive the collapse of the car business and remain profitable through the dealer apocalypse.

Sales Rock Stars Still Exist

By Jim Ziegler
Da Man says $40,000-a-month sales rock stars still exist. He says you’ll find them on YouTube and Facebook Live.

The New Stooges

By Jim Ziegler

Is Your Quick Lube Driving Away Business?

By Jim Ziegler