Charges of predatory lending against four Brooklyn used-car dealerships resulted in a $300,000 settlement to be paid by Credit Acceptance, Clover Commercial and Westlake Financial to New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Photo by Joe Hunt
NEW YORK — New York Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced settlement agreements with three financing companies — Credit Acceptance Corp., Clover Commercial Corp. and Westlake Financial Services — that financed subprime auto loans as high as 24.9% through a group of Brooklyn used-car dealerships. In total, DCA secured $311,260.57 in restitution for 50 consumers, according to the agency’s announcement.
In May 2017, DCA charged the dealerships — USA1 Auto Sales Inc., Lenden Used Car Sales Inc., D&A Guaranteed Auto Sales Inc., and Linden Used Cars Inc. — and their owners, with deceptive and unlawful trade practices, including misleading consumers about the price of automobiles, concealing and misrepresenting the terms of sale and financing, and failing to inspect the automobiles.
“Thanks to DCA’s efforts, all three financing companies have agreed to pay restitution to consumers who were burdened with exorbitant interest rates on loans they received through these deceptive dealerships,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “The city will not tolerate predatory financing and sales practices. We will continue to hold dealerships and financing companies accountable in an effort to protect innocent New Yorkers from purchasing unusable cars and loans that place excessive financial burdens on themselves and their family members.”
Credit Acceptance, Clover and Westlake have agreed to:
- Reimburse $311,260.57 to 50 consumers who were in high-interest loan agreements with the dealerships and whose contracts were assigned to the finance companies. Consumers who owe money will receive a credit to their account and any amount beyond what is owed will be paid via check. Consumers who no longer owe any money will also receive a check.
- Provide restitution to eligible consumers who file new complaints about any of the four dealerships before March 11, 2018, allowing even more consumers the opportunity to benefit from the agreements.
- Safeguard consumers by requesting that consumer reporting agencies delete any negative information that was reported in an effort to help repair the consumers’ damaged credit.
DCA currently licenses 666 used-car dealerships and claims to have received nearly 5,800 complaints from consumers about those stores over the past four years. The complaints range from instances of forgery on contracts to a dealership’s failure to provide material disclosures to consumers. As a result of the mediation of consumer complaints, investigations and settlements, DCA has secured more than $2.7 million in consumer restitution and assessed nearly $1.8 million in fines against used-car dealerships over the past three years.
In March, DCA announced charges against Major World, one of the largest used-car dealerships in the city with multiple locations in Queens, for engaging in deceptive financing and sales practices that resulted in predatory lending targeting immigrants and New Yorkers with low incomes.
In October, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of legislation to combat predatory financing practices in the used-car industry. These new laws, which go into effect in February 2018, require used-car dealerships to post a “consumer bill of rights” and to disclose other information about the automobile price and financing terms, provide required notices to the consumer in the language used to negotiate the contract, and provide consumers with the option to cancel their contract within two business days of the sale.