New Forms Take Hold as Defense Against Discrimination Claims

July 31, 2013
Automotive News  
auto financing news

Auto dealership vendors and legal advisers have begun to use "exceptions forms" when dealers charge other than the standard rate for dealer reserve on a vehicle loan. The documents could help the industry protect against accusations of discrimination, given the general scrutiny that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is aiming at auto finance. The concept begins with a fixed rate for dealer reserve -- the extra interest added to the customer's rate as the dealership's profit on the loan -- rather than a rate set on a case-by-case basis. After setting a standard rate, legal experts suggest that dealerships use an exceptions form to document "legitimate business reasons" to justify charging a customer a different rate. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that when dealerships are allowed to set the final interest rate for consumers, lenders create situations in which legally protected borrowers -- such as minorities -- may be charged higher interest rates. That amounts to credit discrimination even if it is unintentional, according to the CFPB, which has recommended that dealers switch to flat fees.
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