Attorney General DeWine sued two “buy-here-pay-here” used car dealerships in April for violating Ohio’s consumer laws.
The lawsuits charged Keep It Moving Auto of Cleveland and Auto Finance/Auto Finance South of Columbus with multiple violations of Ohio’s consumer laws.
“Buy-here-pay-here” dealers are motor vehicle dealers that offer consumers financing directly at the dealership instead of financing a loan through a third party, such as a bank. Such dealerships often cater to lower-income consumers, or consumers with lower credit ratings, and charge high interest rates. At some buy-here-pay-here dealerships, the purchases are one-sided, with high consumer interest rates. If consumers fail to pay, the cars can be repossessed quickly.
After several consumers filed complaints against Keep It Moving Auto, Inc. of Cleveland and Streetsboro, the Attorney General’s Office discovered numerous violations by the dealer, such as failing to notify consumers of payment due dates or the total cost of credit, and including an acceleration clause for consumers who defaulted, meaning the total amount consumers owed would be due immediately without notice to consumers. The lawsuit charged the company with violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and other laws.
More than 50 complaints against Auto Finance LLC and Auto Finance South of Columbus prompted an investigation and lawsuit against this company and its owners. The business failed to give consumers proper disclosures about their financing and failed to obtain certificates of title in the time required by law, among other violations.
Whether you do business with a buy-here-pay-here seller or another dealership, follow these tips when buying a used vehicle:
- Research a dealership’s reputation. Check with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau before doing business with the dealership.
- Get everything in writing. Take your time to read the contract.
- When financing, ask about payment schedules. Make sure you understand when the payments are due, and obtain a receipt each time you make a payment. Find out the total amount you will pay for the car if you finance.
- Check to ensure that all parts of the contract are completed. Do not sign a contract that has blank spaces for finance terms or other conditions.
- Watch for “auto refinancing” scams. The Federal Trade Commission recently took action against businesses that made false promises to lower consumers’ auto loan payments. Ohioans should be wary of businesses that make such promises.
For more information about the buy-here-pay-here lawsuits, go to http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Briefing-Room/News-Releases/April-2012/Attorney-General-DeWine-Sues--Buy-Here-Pay-Here--U
Learn more about the Federal Trade Commission’s auto refinancing actions at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/04/autoloans.shtm