Auto repair chains like Charlotte-based Meineke, and local repair shops nationwide are steering customers to predatory lenders engaged in deceptive and abusive practices, charging up to 189% APR
WASHINGTON – A new, just-released report by the Stop The Debt Trap coalition finds auto repair shops across the country, including Meineke, headquartered in Charlotte, are offering predatory loans through EasyPay Finance and Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB Bank) that promise no interest if paid in 90 days but end up costing as much as 189% – even in states where an interest rate that high is illegal. The report highlights some of the hundreds of complaints detailing deceptive and abusive practices concerning loans by EasyPay Finance, its parent company Duvera Billing Services, and Utah-based bank, TAB Bank, which helps EasyPay evade state laws. EasyPay Finance loans are available at auto repair and tire shops around the country, including at major chains such as AAMCO, Big O Tires, Grease Monkey, JiffyLube, Meineke, Midas, and Precision Tune Auto Care.
For example, one complaint warns others to “NEVER go to Meineke” while describing a payment process in which virtually none of the three, $100 payments made went to the loan principal. “Where the hell has all the payments gone to,” the borrower asked.
One North Carolina consumer tells how a loan carrying a 130% APR was not disclosed until after their transmission repair. Another North Carolina consumer protests “accounts on my credit report that are not mine.”
“The Tar Heel state has strong, wide-ranging, and bipartisan support for its cap on loan interest rates. It is appalling that Meineke, a North Carolina based company, is among the auto repair companies participating in a predatory loan scheme that evades our interest rate cap. Auto repair shops should stop driving their customers into a financial ditch. The FDIC should stop TAB Bank, and other banks they supervise, from sponsoring this exploitative scheme,” said Rochelle Sparko, director of North Carolina policy at the Center for Responsible Lending.
The National Consumer Law Center also released a Consumer Alert about these loans, which warns consumers to “beware of the fine print that could disguise costly loans at rates up to 189%.” Advocates urge consumers to avoid any loan above 36% APR including fees. If caught in an EasyPay Finance loan, consumers should file a complaint with the CFPB, the FDIC, and the North Carolina Department of Justice. They should also opt out of the forced arbitration clause and consult a lawyer.
To find where businesses – including for auto repair and retail – that are facilitating these usurious EasyPay loans are located, use this store locator.
“Loans at 189% are illegal in most states, but TAB Bank is helping EasyPay Finance evade those laws and multiply the pain of an expensive car repair,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director at the National Consumer Law Center.
TAB Bank is one of only a few rogue banks willing to front for predatory lenders. The bank, which is chartered in Utah and supervised by the FDIC, helps EasyPay Finance (owned by Duvera Billing Services) charge up to 189% on loans offered through stores nationwide, including auto mechanics, furniture stores, and pet stores offering predatory puppy loans. In states, such as North Carolina, that have outlawed predatory interest rates, EasyPay Finance launders its loans through TAB Bank so that it can charge high interest rates that it cannot legally charge as a non-bank lender. In other states, it makes the loans directly.
In addition to the excessive interest rates, complaints about the TAB Bank/EasyPay Finance loans describe tactics to conceal the interest rate, exploitation of veterans and servicemembers, the use of impossible-to-obtain 90-day full-interest rebate offers, unauthorized direct debits, mistakes and poor customer service, damaged credit reports, and debt collection harassment.
“Auto repair shops throughout the country, including major auto repair companies, are steering struggling consumers into deceptive, high cost loans with lasting impacts, including credit report harm and debt collection harassment,” said Rachel Gittleman, Financial Services Outreach Manager at Consumer Federation of America.
"A car repair can be a devastating expense, and financially fragile families don't need predatory lenders amplifying the damage. EasyPay and its rent-a-bank partner TAB Bank are preying on people in a way that exploits the centrality of cars in American society. For most people, having a car that runs well is essential to their daily economic life and to managing a family," said Elyse Hicks, Consumer Policy Counsel at Americans for Financial Reform.
Contacts: Center for Responsible Lending, Matthew Kravitz (firstname.lastname@example.org); National Consumer Law Center, Stephen Rouzer (email@example.com); Consumer Federation of America, Rachel Gittleman (firstname.lastname@example.org); Americans for Financial Reform, William Pierre-Louis, Jr. (email@example.com);