There are some pretty sketchy practices in the equipment finance industry. Since financial services are complex and have lots of funky terms that industry "outsiders" don't necessarily understand, most segments of the industry have a certain amount of bad seeds running around.
However, bigger industries like mortgage and insurance are pretty tightly regulated, so when someone is caught breaking the rules, they tend to go to jail and get their name in the newspaper. Equipment leasing companies aren't regulated at all, so it's a lot easier to scam you when you are financing equipment than in a lot of other areas.
For many finance products, it's pretty safe to just go with a bigger company - the guys who use Snoopy to sell you insurance aren't as likely to be crooks as the guy you've never heard of who sent you a postcard - but in the equipment finance world some of the largest companies (not all, but some) are the biggest offenders when it comes to dishonesty, unfair dealing, and just plain stealing from their customers.
One of the biggest scams to watch out for is referred to as the Evergreen Clause....
Let's say you buy equipment on a 48 month lease with a $1 buyout (meaning after 48 months, you can pay one dollar and then you own the equipment). Some companies will stick a clause in the contract that says if you don't notify them within a certain time (usually 90 days) of contract expiration, they can renew your contract for 6 or 12 months.
Seriously ? There are really crooks out there who will keep charging you the monthly fee even when you have made all your payments and should own the equipment outright. So, if you were paying on a $1,000 monthly equipment finance agreement and you don't realize there was an evergreen clause, you can get stuck for an extra $12,000 that you get absolutely nothing for. Believe it or not, these "evergreen clauses" are legal in 45 states.
Knowing and trusting the company you use for any kind of financial advice or service is just plain smart. Relationships are built over time and a good measure of any companies reliability is how long they have been in business - usually time will weed out the bad seeds.