Auto lender fined for illegal debt collection

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Another indirect auto finance company and its car title subsidiary are in trouble with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for illegal debt collection tactics.

The CFPB recently found that the debt collection practices of Westlake Services LLC and Wilshire Consumer Credit LLC were deceptive and they illegally disclosed consumer information.

Deceived consumers

The CFPB said that the companies illegally deceived consumers by calling them under false pretenses, using phony caller ID information and falsely threatening to investigate or criminally prosecute borrowers. The agency also said the companies disclosed information about the borrowers’ debts to employers, friends and family, which is illegal.

In addition to being ordered to overhaul their debt collection practices, the companies will pay $4.25 million in civil penalties and provide borrowers affected by the practices with $44.1 million in cash relief.

“Consumers struggling to pay their bills deserve to be treated with respect, not subjected to illegal threats and deceptive phone calls. We will continue to clean up the debt collection market and root out these illegal and inexcusable practices,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

Westlake Services LLC specializes in purchases of car loans from auto dealers nationwide, especially from consumers with less-than-stellar credit in the subprime and near-subprime credit score categories. Its subsidiary, Wilshire Consumer Credit LLC, buys car title loans from others and provides auto title loans directly to consumers, primarily online, and then services those car loans.

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Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.