MY VIEW/Bob McDonnell – Steering clear of debt


Recently the Office of the Attorney General reached a settlement with another automobile title lender for violating Virginias Consumer Finance Act. Auto title lenders generally make loans to consumers which are secured by a motor vehicle title.
This time the settlement was with Auto Cash Title Loans, a Virginia lender operating out of locations in Richmond and Spotsylvania. We found that Auto Cash Title Loans had been charging its borrowers finance charges that exceeded legal limits. It has agreed to provide $25,137 in refunds to 115 borrowers, and agreed not to collect $323,254 in outstanding interest and deficiencies from 248 borrowers.
I am pleased we were able to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with Auto Cash to provide refunds and other relief to affected Virginians. Our office has successfully negotiated settlements with six automobile title lenders during the past year. Among other relief, these settlements have required $458,668 in refunds to 2,637 borrowers.
Such cases, however, are not the norm. Many high-interest rate lenders, such as automobile title lenders, regularly extend loans in conformity with state law. But its always best if consumers can avoid a cycle of continuing debt by choosing alternatives to high-cost loans.
According to the State Corporation Commissions Bureau of Financial Institutions, some alternatives to high-rate loans include: considering a short-term loan from another financial institution such as a credit union, or working out a payment arrangement with your creditors if your money crunch is particularly tight.
More tips on avoiding a cycle of debt, along with plenty of advice for your various consumer needs, are featured in our Virginia Consumer Guide, published and distributed by our office. You can get it online by visiting, or if you dont have Internet access you can call our consumer hotline toll-free at 800-451-1525 to request a copy.
Consumer protection is an important statutory duty of the Office of the Attorney General, and our staff can help. In an age of increased consumer scams, we all must continue to be educated and vigilant.
McDonnell is Virginia’s Attorney General.