Former SouthCoast Car Dealerships’ Finance Company Settles
BOSTON — The automobile finance company that financed high-interest loans to used car dealerships in Westport and Fall River that were selling defective and unsafe vehicles has agreed to provide $800,000 in relief to consumers affected by the deceptive practices.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office announced today that United Auto Credit Corporation has agreed to provide relief to those who purchased vehicles at F&R Auto in Westport and City Line Auto Sales, Inc. in Fall River and financed loans through UACC.
Both car dealerships are no longer in business.
“For many consumers, buying a car is the largest purchase of a lifetime, and when it’s defective or inoperable, it can have catastrophic ripple effects on daily life and well-being, including employment, housing, and even health,” AG Healey said in a release. “This settlement furthers our office’s mission to protect consumers from predatory and unfair practices and secures hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief for those victimized by this company.”
According to the A.G.’s Office, an investigation revealed that the subprime automobile financing company “facilitated the sale of defective and inoperable vehicles by F&R Auto and City Line by supplying the dealerships with financing, despite knowing of hundreds of consumer complaints against the dealerships and of their high default and repossession rates.”
The A.G.’s Office also said UACC “illegally required some consumers who had to voluntarily surrender their vehicles when they could not afford their payments to sign a Voluntary Surrender Agreement with broad release language that waived all recourse against UACC, while pursuing judgments against consumers who failed to pay their deficiency balances after repossession.”
As part of the settlement, UACC will forgive all unsatisfied debt and waive all uncollected deficiency balances owed anyone who purchased vehicles from either F&R Auto or City Line, and financed them through UACC, on or after October 5, 2014.
UACC will also waive all uncollected deficiency balances and refund payments toward them for anyone that voluntarily surrendered their vehicle by signing those broad release waivers.
In addition, UACC will repair the credit of those consumers with credit reporting agencies, and pay $250,000 to the Attorney General’s Office. UACC has since changed its business practices to comply with Massachusetts law, Healey’s Office said.
The A.G.’s Office said Healey has obtained more than $1.9 million in restitution and debt relief just from F&R Auto and City Line customers alone. Anyone with questions or concerns about the settlement can contact the office at (617) 573-5336.