Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.
But before they can drive off the lot, many subprime borrowers must have their car outfitted with a so-called starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the ignition. Using the GPS technology on the devices, the lenders can also track the cars’ location and movements.
The devices, which have been installed in about two million vehicles, are helping feed the subprime boom by enabling more high-risk borrowers to get loans. But there is a big catch. By simply clicking a mouse or tapping a smartphone, lenders retain the ultimate control. Borrowers must stay current with their payments, or lose access to their vehicle.
Awesome…it’s like Big Brother meets Repo Man. Check this clown out, who the article calls the “GPS Man”, a new kind of virtual repo superhero for the 21st Century:
“I have disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart,” said Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Federal Credit Union in Covington, La. Roughly 30 percent of customers with an auto loan at the credit union have starter interrupt devices.
From his office outside New Orleans, Mr. Vead can monitor the movements of about 880 subprime borrowers on a computerized map that shows the location of their cars with a red marker. Mr. Vead can spot drivers who have fallen behind on their payments and remotely disable their vehicles on his computer or mobile phone.
The devices are reshaping how people like Mr. Vead collect on debts. He can quickly locate the collateral without relying on a repo man to hunt down delinquent borrowers.
Gone are the days when Mr. Vead, a debt collector for nearly 20 years, had to hire someone to scour neighborhoods for cars belonging to delinquent borrowers. Sometimes locating one could take years. Now, within minutes of a car’s ignition being disabled, Mr. Vead said, the borrower calls him offering to pay.
“It gets their attention,” he said.
Mr. Vead, who has a coffee cup that reads “The GPS Man,” has been encouraging other credit unions to use the technology. And the devices — one version was first used to help pet owners keep track of their animals — are catching on with a range of subprime auto lenders, including companies backed by private equity firms and credit unions.
“GPS Man”, don’t you love it? “GPS Man…he can disable cars in a single key stroke!” (I feel like I’m reading a really bad Marvel Comic that was pulled from the shelves for lack of sales).
Except it’s not a cartoon…it’s Wall Street providing the capital for these subprime bottom-feeders who then scam low income individuals into taking out loans (up to 29% interest rates) they can’t afford. Sound familiar?
Without the use of such devices, said John Pena, general manager of C.A.G. Acceptance, “we would be unable to extend loans because of the high-risk nature of the loans.”
If you read the article, this is the same company that turned off a woman’s car while she was on the interstate in Las Vegas, forcing her to cross three lanes and almost killing her and untold other drivers on the road that day.
Across the country, state and federal authorities are grappling with how to regulate the new technology.
Consumer lawyers, including dozens whose clients’ cars have been shut down, argue that the devices amount to “electronic repossession” and their use should be governed by state laws, which outline how much time borrowers have before their cars can be seized.
State laws governing repossession typically prevent lenders from seizing cars until the borrowers are in default, which often means that they have not made their payments for at least 30 days.
The devices, lawyers for borrowers argue, violate those laws because they may effectively repossess the car only days after a missed payment. Payment records show that Ms. Bolender, the Las Vegas mother with the sick daughter, was not in default in any of the four instances her ignition was disabled this year.
All of this is troubling on a number of levels. The fact that the gps tracking systems allows “debt collectors” and other unqualified people access to these borrower’s every move is borderline stalking. And given that the debt collection industry is rife with criminals, thieves and other malcontents (a “Candy Store for Criminals”), you are basically ensuring this technology will be used in other criminal ways.
But as well all know, Wall Street is rife with criminals, thieves and other malcontents as well, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the psychopaths on The Street have figured out a way back into the subprime scams of the 00’s. The regulations have been tightened to prevent similar predatory lending in the housing market, but apparently not when it comes to auto loans. Just another way the poor are scammed, ripped off, surveilled and controlled by the power-elite in society.
I need GPS Man to go kill ISIS terrorists or Russian insurgents. I don’t need him hounding single mothers with kids and no money, shutting off their vehicles.
Cross Posted From: The Power-Elite Blog