For Immediate Release - March 16, 2016

Thousands of Massachusetts Drivers to Receive $7.4 Million in Relief on High-Interest Auto Loans from Two Lenders

AG’s Office Has Now Recovered More Than $12 Million for Consumers Relating to High-Interest Auto Loans

BOSTON – Two national auto lenders have agreed to provide a total of $7.4 million in relief to thousands of Massachusetts consumers over allegations they charged excessive interest rates on their subprime auto loans, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The AG’s Office has now recovered more than $12 million for consumers in the last several months in settlements relating to high-interest auto loans.

“There are protections in place to ensure that consumers who take out auto loans are treated fairly and not forced to pay illegal and excessive interest rates,” AG Healey said. “Our office will continue to make sure that these protections under state law are applied properly so that consumers are not exploited by predatory practices.” 

Under the terms of the assurances of discontinuance, filed Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, American Credit Acceptance, LLC (ACA) and Westlake Services, LLC (Westlake) have agreed to eliminate interest on certain loans they purchased that allegedly included excessive interest rates due to the inclusion of so-called GAP coverage. The lenders have also agreed to forgive outstanding interest on the loans and reimburse consumers for the interest they have already paid on the debts. 

The Attorney General’s Office has identified approximately $1.7 million in relief for ACA loans, and approximately $5.7 million in relief relating to Westlake loans. Under the settlements, additional audit work will determine if other loans are also subject to refunds. More than two thousand Massachusetts consumers will benefit from the settlements. On average, the settlement will provide each consumer with approximately $3,000 in relief. 

Under the settlements, the lenders will also pay $225,000 to pay for implementation of the agreements.

Consumers in these cases were overcharged because of GAP fees. These fees caused the effective interest rates on the loans to exceed the 21 percent state interest cap. GAP is a product that is intended to limit the shortfall between the payment on an auto insurance claim and the amount the borrower owes on a car loan in the event the financed vehicle is totaled. GAP is sold by car dealers as an add-on product and is often financed in the auto loan. 

This case is part of an ongoing subprime loan review initiative by the Attorney General’s Office. Previously, as part of this initiative, the Attorney General announced a $5.4 million settlement with Santander USA Holdings Inc. also relating to GAP fees and excessive interest. 

Map Showing Affected Consumers in Cases with Santander, ACA, and Westlake
Map Showing Affected Consumers in Cases with Santander, ACA, and Westlake

The Attorney General’s Office continues to review a variety of practices in the subprime auto lending arena. Consumers who have complaints or disputes relating to auto loans are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. 

Consumers with questions about settlement eligibility should contact AG Healey’s Insurance and Financial Services hotline at 1-888-830-6277.  Eligible consumers will be contacted by Westlake and ACA about these settlements. 

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Aaron Lamb, Legal Analyst Sarah Sunderman, Mathematician Burt Feinberg, Investigations Supervisor Arwen Thoman and Division Chief Glenn Kaplan.