Potential Disaster Looms With Auto Title Loans
December 19, 2012
Financially vulnerable people may turn to a car title loan, but this arrangement carries more risks than benefits. Even in a best-case scenario, borrowers still pay excessive interest and put their property at risk. After taking out a six-month, $1,500 loan from Lighthouse Financial in Phoenix, at an interest rate of 180 percent, Patricia Guillen says the company seized her car in the middle of the night because of a late fee. She says she gave Lighthouse all the necessary information to deduct the first payment from her checking account, but the transaction repeatedly failed. When she went to the Lighthouse office to make a direct payment, she was told she owed $123 in late fees. In response, Guillen filed a dispute with the business's corporate office in Florida. Although the payments were posted, Lighthouse still threatened her with "collections" over the late fees and eventually repossessed her car. Getting back her vehicle would require paying off the loan in full, plus extra fees, towing, and storage charges that could add thousands to the total. Better options over car title loans include asking a credit union for a loan, person-to-person online lending, or borrowing cash from a family member or friend.
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