Finance companies have begun using ignition kill switches and tracking devices, which allow them to disable and then easily locate vehicles for repossession. Some of the devices even remind borrowers when they’ve missed a payment. According to PassTime, a company that sells such devices, somewhere between 35 and 70 percent of cars financed on subprime loans have some variant of the hardware installed.
Now the the Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether these automotive finance companies are illegally harassing consumers with poor credit by imposing the hardware onto their vehicles — potentially violating their privacy while also garnering unnecessary intimidation from banks. (Read More…)
Good times have clearly arrived, because Americans are flinging money at cars like it’s going out of style.
Leasing has never been more popular for American car buyers, reports the Detroit Free Press, and the size of their auto loans have also reached record territory.
Alan Zibel and Annamaria Andriotis of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) report that consumer loans to borrowers with bad credit, including those for cars and light trucks, are now approaching 40% of loans issued, the highest percentage since the start of the financial crisis in 2007-08.
Almost four of every 10 loans for autos, credit cards and personal borrowing in the U.S. went to subprime customers during the first 11 months of 2014, according to data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by credit-reporting firm Equifax.
That amounted to more than 50 million consumer loans and cards totaling more than $189 billion, the highest levels since 2007, when subprime loans represented 41% of consumer lending outside of home mortgages. Equifax defines subprime borrowers as those with a credit score below 640 on a scale that tops out at 850.