CBS Story on auto loan defaults

Others | February 12th, 2008 by 0

Here is a crazy story that I saw on CBS5 the other night. The short story is that a woman that lives on $2500/month disability …

Here is a crazy story that I saw on CBS5 the other night. The short story is that a woman that lives on $2500/month disability income, went to a dealership in Illinois and leased a BMW with the MSRP around $100,000, so the monthly lease came down to $1300. The story gets more complicated when CBS5 found out that the loan application was altered to reflect a different income. 

Here is the full story and I'm hoping to read your thoughts on this

Auto payment defaults doubled last year and are expected to get worse. It is another financial meltdown waiting to happen similar to the crisis in the home mortgage industry, according to one consumer group. A CBS 5 ConsumerWatch investigation has found consumers locked into cars they cannot afford.

According to Power Information Network, 1.85 of the 9.6 million customers in 2006 who leased or financed a new car were subprime borrowers or consumers with weak credit.

Vivian Snyder has strong credit and is not classified as subprime, but she is one of many consumers who can't afford the car she leased. Snyder drives a brand new convertible BMW with a MSRP listed at approximately $100,000.

Most consumers can't afford it, and neither can Vivian. That's because the monthly lease payment is $1,300. It eats up half her income which is a $2,500 disability check.

Yet, she got it at BMW of Fremont without showing a drivers license, pay stub, or any proof of income.

How did this happen? Apparently, her income was inflated by nearly 150%.

According to consumer advocate Rosemary Shahan with Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety the practice is common.

"This is an epidemic of loan applications being falsified. In fact, the model for the meltdown we're seeing in real estate and home mortgage lending was auto lending."

Vivian's story starts like so many others. She went to the dealership which is owned by Autonation, the largest automobile retailer in the country just to look.

She got caught up in the excitement and said she told the salesperson about her $2,500-a month income. But, what ended up on the credit application was the amount she could be making if she was not on disability.

"He (the salesperson) put what he thought I needed to get qualified for the car," according to Vivian.

She admits she signed the lease credit application with her income inflated.

But CBS5 reviewed the lease application handed to Vivian as she left and compared it to a page from the same multi-layer document she retrieved days later.

Vivian's income had been changed once again – from $6,000 to $8,600 without her knowing.

General Manager Larry Long said a salesperson insists he changed the figure while Vivian was present.

"I witnessed that sale. I saw her and congratulated her. She was so thankful. She was so passionate about wanting that car and would have done anything to get that car," Long said.

Larry directs the blame on the finance company – BMW Financial Services.

"It's up to them to look at the credit application and they will see it at face value what the customer puts on paper as to be the truth," Long said.

Martha McKinley, a spokesperson with BMW Financial Services, said, "We have investigated this matter internally, and we are satisfied that BMW Financial Services acted appropriately at all times during the application and credit review process."

Vivian has only a few options. She can plead with the finance company to release her from the lease or have the car repossessed, losing her good credit and a $30,000 down payment which consisted of her entire retirement savings.

"I'm greatly embarrassed," Vivian said. "I should have looked over the contract better."

[Source: CBS5 ]

P.S Here is a funny discussion on