BOSTON — Both American Credit Acceptance (ACA) and Westlake Financial Services have agreed to provide a total of $7.4 million in relief to consumers in Massachusetts to settle charges that they charged excessive interest rates on subprime loans, the state’s attorney general’s office announced last week.
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office stated that ACA will provide approximately $1.7 million in relief, while Westlake will pay $5.7 million in consumer relief. The regulator said each affected subprime consumer will receive an average of $3,000 in relief.
“There are protections in place to ensure that consumers who take out loans are treated fairly and not forced to pay illegal and excessive interest rates,” Attorney General Maura Healey said. “Our office will continue to make sure that these protections under state law are applied properly so that consumers are not exploited by predatory practices.”
According to the attorney general’s complaint, the affected consumers were charged interest rates that exceeded the state’s 21% cap due to GAP fees included in the loans.
This is the second time the attorney general’s office has required a finance source to provide relief for excessive interest rates due to GAP fees in the past five months. On Nov. 5, 2015, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office announced that Santander would provide $5.4 million in relief to 450 Massachusetts consumers to settle similar charges of excessive interest rates on subprime loans.
The finance source agreed to eliminate interest on loans it purchased that included the alleged excessive interest rates due to GAP fees. Santander also agreed to forgive outstanding interest on the affected consumer loans and reimburse any interest that had already been paid.
Combined, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office has recovered more than $12 million in relief for subprime consumers who have received higher interest rates than allowed by the state due to GAP.
In addition to consumer relief, both ACA and Westlake Financial will pay $225,000 for implementation of the agreements. The state attorney general’s office is also conducting additional audit work to determine if other loans are subject to refunds.