OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — If you’re considering financing an auto repair loan, you might want to read the fine print. A Utah-based online bank was recently flagged by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) for issuing up to 189% interest on loans.
The company, EasyPay Finance, works in tandem with Ogden, Utah-based TAB Bank. The bank offers financing through auto and tire repair shops across the country.
Some auto repair shops through which the bank issues the financing are familiar:
- Big O tires
- Jiffy Lube
- Precision Automotive Maintenance
But the loans violate some state laws, says NCLC.
According to the NCLC, hundreds of complaints describe:
- Misleading promises of full 90-day interest repayments difficult to exercise.
- Shocking interest rates of up to 189% with payments being mostly interest.
- Damage to credit reports. Payments can even be reported late for loans paid in full or to the wrong consumer. Consumers declare that they receive no response to their disputes.
- Harassment for debt collection.
There are ways to avoid deceptive practices. The NCLC says consumers should consider a credit card or personal loan and avoid any loan above 36% APR. The NCLC also advises consumers to always check the terms of a loan before signing, and you should always get a copy of the agreement you sign.
Some may wonder how illegal interest rates can be charged in some states.
According to the NCLC, TAB Bank uses its EasyPay banking charter to help evade state laws. EasyPay Finance loans are guaranteed by TAB Bank and are available at auto repair and tire shops across the country. The TAB is also supervised by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“A car repair can be a devastating expense, and financially fragile families don’t need predatory lenders to magnify the damage. EasyPay and its bank leasing partner TAB Bank are attacking people in a way that exploits the centrality of cars in American society. For most people, having a well-functioning car is essential to their day-to-day economic life and to running a family,” said Elyse Hicks, consumer policy adviser at Americans for Financial Reform.
The NCLC also points out that in addition to excessive interest rates, the TAB Bank and EasyPay Finance loan complaints describe tactics to conceal the interest rate, exploitation of veterans and military, the use of unobtainable 90-day loans. interest refund offers, unauthorized direct debits, errors and poor customer service, damaged credit reports and debt collection harassment.
In an effort to end predatory lending, the Stop the Debt Trap Coalition of more than 800 people is working to hold lenders accountable.