Nissan Motor’s U.S. lending arm agreed on Tuesday to make a payment of $4 million U.S. fine to settle a government agency’s allegation that it inappropriately repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said that 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. The automaker must pay up to $1 million to consumers subject to an improper repossession.
NMAC said it rejected wrongdoing but accepted to settle and takes the agency’s “assertions seriously and share their commitment to fair practices for all our customers”.
NMAC repossessed automobiles from consumers who made payments that reduced delinquency to less than 60 days past due or took other steps that should have avoided repossessions, the bureau said, adding NMAC told consumers it would not repossess automobiles if payments were less than 60 days past due.
CFPB also discovered that 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”.
The agency stated actions breached the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement enforces requirements “to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward,” the bureau said.
CFPB also discovered that when the automaker agreed to modify loan payments for tens of thousands of customers it “used agreements or written confirmations that included language that created the net misimpression that consumers could not file for bankruptcy”.
In 2018, auto dealerships assigned NMAC more than 382,000 new loans and 299,000 new leases, CFPB stated, adding the same year NMAC serviced $49.3 billion in outstanding loans and leases.