Nissan’s credit arm landed in some big trouble this week. It turned out that there are literally some rules around repossessing a car from a consumer. Apparently Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. didn’t read those rules, and now they’ll have to pony up.
NMAC is a subsidiary Nissan North America Inc., and is the primary conduit for the company’s auto loans. According to Automotive News, in 2018 the company carried 382,000 new auto loans, 299,000 new leases, and serviced an overall block of $49.3 billion.
While that’s a pretty impressive book of business, it’d be even more impressive if NMAC followed the rules in its administration. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found this week that between 2013 and 2019, NMAC wrongfully repossessed hundreds of vehicles from consumers. The vehicles in question did not qualify for a legal repossession, because consumers had made payments or taken other actions to keep their loan or lease in sufficient standing to prevent repossession. Namely among these actions were lowering the loan’s delinquency to less than 60 days. That figure was the established timeline in NMAC’s paperwork.
But wait, there’s more! Nissan held the personal property of the consumers in the repossessed vehicles until they paid a storage fee. The company also required customers to pay by phone, and “deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees.”
Think that’s enough evidence of wrongdoing? Well, there’s more. Among a broader group of loans (thousands), when NMAC agreed to modify loan payments, it used agreements and written confirmations which included shady language. The language in question “created the net misimpression that consumers could not file for bankruptcy.”
Nissan absolutely denies any wrongdoing in the matter after seeing the information brought by the CFPB. However, they’re willing to settle and said they take assertions from the CFPB seriously. NMAC shares a “commitment to fair practices for all our consumers.” The cost of their newfound commitment? A small fine of $4 million.