Buy Here, Pay Here is Bad News

Disabled cars and illegal repos await victims of auto lending loan sharks

Andy Spears


Photo by Parsoa Khorsand on Unsplash

Reliable transportation is an essential element of American life. Sure, in some cities there is access to adequate public transit, but many Americans rely on personal vehicles to get to work and conduct the business necessary for their daily lives.

Of course, cars can be expensive and though they can be financed, many lenders are reluctant to lend to low-income borrowers.

Enter the buy here, pay here lot. It’s a car dealer that both sells the cars AND offers direct financing of those cars.

Which is great, except these dealers often charge outrageous interest rates and engage in unscrupulous collection practices.

Here’s one recent example:

Among the tactics employed by U.S. Auto Sales Finance:

  • Illegally disabled cars: Many auto lenders require that cars are installed with devices using GPS technology that allow the lender or servicer to prevent a borrower from starting a car. These devices are known as “kill switches” or “starter interrupters.” USASF incorrectly disabled vehicles at least 7,500 times and caused these devices to play warning tones in vehicles over 71,000 times during periods when the consumer was not in default or was in communication with USASF about upcoming payments. USASF remotely disabled vehicles at least 1,500 times after explicitly promising consumers it would not do so.

The company also illegally repossessed cars when payments had been made or were in process AND failed to provide millions of dollars in refunds owed to consumers.

In other consumer news:

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .