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October 14, 2020

Nissan US finance unit fined $4m over improper repossessions

Nissan Motor's US consumer finance unit has agreed to pay a US$4m fine to settle a government agency allegation it improperly repossessed hundreds of customers' vehicles, the Reuters news agency reported.

By Olly Wehring

Nissan Motor's US consumer finance unit has agreed to pay a US$4m fine to settle a government agency allegation it improperly repossessed hundreds of customers' vehicles, the Reuters news agency reported.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said, between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp (NMAC), a subsidiary of the automaker's North American unit, "wrongfully repossessed hundreds of consumers' vehicles despite the consumer having made payments" or taken other actions.

Nissan also must pay up to $1m to consumers subject to a wrongful repossession.

According to Reuters, NMAC said it denied wrongdoing but agreed to settle and takes the agency's "assertions seriously and share their commitment to fair practices for all our customers".

Citing the bureau, the report said NMAC repossessed vehicles from consumers who made payments that decreased delinquency to less than 60 days overdue or took other steps that should have prevented repossessions. The bureau added NMAC told consumers it would not repossess vehicles if payments were less than 60 days past due.

CFPB also found Nissan "kept personal property in consumers' repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee (and) deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees".

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The agency told Reuters actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposed requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward", the bureau said.

According to the news agency, CFPB also found when Nissan agreed to modify loan payments for tens of thousands of consumers it "used agreements or written confirmations that included language that created the net misimpression that consumers could not file for bankruptcy".

CFPB told Reuters, in 2018, auto dealerships assigned NMAC over 382,000 new loans and 299,000 new leases. The same year NMAC serviced $49.3bn in outstanding loans and leases.

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