Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is urging consumers to carefully consider the terms and conditions of auto-title loans.
“Auto-title loans use a consumer’s vehicle title as collateral,” DeWine said. “That means that if consumers fail to pay off the loans, they risk losing their vehicles. These loans also may involve higher costs than consumers realize, and we want to make sure consumers understand the potential consequences.”
Auto-title loans are short-term loans secured by a consumer’s vehicle title. Typically, the company puts a lien on the title and asks for the hard copy of the title to secure the loan. Once the consumer repays the loan, the lien is lifted and the consumer receives the title back. However, if a consumer cannot pay back the loan, the lender may repossess the vehicle or charge additional fees to refinance the loan.
DeWine offers the following suggestions for consumers who are considering taking out an auto-title loan:
Shop around. Before doing business with a particular company, check for any complaints filed against it with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau.
Verify that a credit services organization or lender is registered or licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
Read and understand the terms and conditions of the loan. Check the payback dates and find out whether or not you can make partial payments or if the loan must be paid off in one payment.
Make sure you understand all costs, including interest rates and repossession costs. Be especially aware of any extension fees if you are unable to repay the loan within the original time period.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the terms of a loan, walk away.
Consumers also should consider alternatives to auto-title loans. These may include working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency, cutting back on expenses, getting a short-term loan from a bank or credit union, borrowing from friends or family members, or contacting creditors to create an alternative payment plan.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.