The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been busy this year bringing lawsuits against auto lenders and servicers. Just this month, the agency sued the servicing arm of U.S. Auto Sales, alleging USASF Servicing cost consumers more than $10.1 million by mishandling customer refunds, double billing for collateral protection insurance and failing to apply excess customer payments to interest. The suit also alleges that USASF Servicing wrongfully repossessed vehicles at least 82 times, erroneously triggered vehicle starter interrupter “kill switches” at least 7,500 times, and incorrectly activated a 10-second series of tones meant to signal late payments 71,000 times. Imagine the consumer’s surprise when their car won’t start or begins beeping – especially if their loan was in good standing or they weren’t informed of these archaic little features when they purchased the vehicle!
Speaking of annoying entanglements, I’m sure your dealership has been busy implementing policies and procedures designed to support the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Safeguards Rule. While these added requirements may seem burdensome, here’s an interesting way to think about those guardrails surrounding the customer’s data. So far this year, the FTC has received 5.7 million total fraud and identity theft reports, 1.4 million of which were identity theft cases accounting for $10.2 billion in losses. According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, there is an identity theft case every 22 seconds in the U.S. and 33 percent of all Americans have faced some kind of attempt in their lives, with experts predicting this number could increase significantly this year.
While the CFPB and FTC are focused on lender lawsuits and other fronts, there is an opportunity for retail automotive to take advantage of the lull. Now is a great time for your dealership to flex its compliance muscles.