Car dealer pulling credit report multiple times

February 18, 2014 20:31 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I am shopping for a new car. I specifically told the sales rep at the dealership to only check my credit one time. After running my credit report, the sales rep came back with a deal that was not good, i.e. the interest rate was too high.  I declined the offer and left. I've since discovered that the dealership checked my credit 12 times and may be continuing to do so.  This has already hurt my credit rating. I feel this is deliberate retaliation for declining their offer. What can I do?

Consumer Ed Says:

It's very important to monitor requests for your credit report. These requests are recorded on your credit reporting file, and multiple creditor requests can negatively impact your credit score. You can easily check to see who has pulled your credit report by looking at the "Inquiries" section of your credit report.

Federal law strictly limits when and how a consumer's credit report can be released to others. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a consumer report can only be released to another person or entity for limited permissible purposes that are spelled out in the law. For example, a credit reporting agency can furnish your credit report if you give written approval for the report to be released to a business; a creditor can access your credit report when you apply for credit; a collection agency can check it when attempting to collect a debt; insurance companies can pull your report to underwrite your insurance; and employers may access your report if they have your permission.   In order to access your credit report, a business must certify to the credit reporting agency that it is obtaining and using the credit report for a permissible purpose under the FCRA. A person who knowingly accesses your credit report under false pretenses can be fined, imprisoned for up to two years, or both.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a car dealer does not have a permissible purpose to get your credit report if you're simply asking for information about vehicles and prices, or if you just take a car out for a test drive--because at that point you haven't initiated any transaction.

In your case, it sounds like you gave the dealer verbal permission to pull your credit report. So to the extent you allowed it to check your report so that the salesperson could make you an offer, you initiated a transaction with the dealership, and the dealer had a legitimate reason to pull the report--one time. However, once you declined the dealer's offer and left the dealership, the dealer no longer had a permissible purpose to check your report - it didn't have your written approval to do so, and you were no longer considering purchasing a vehicle at that dealership.

If you become aware that your credit report has been obtained outside of the FCRA guidelines, you have several options. Specifically, you can do one or more of the following:

  • Contact the business pulling your report, notify them that you do not believe they have a permissible purpose for accessing your report and request that they stop.      
  • Contact the three major credit reporting agencies to notify them that a business has been accessing your credit file without a permissible purpose.
    • For Equifax, contact: Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, Georgia 30348.
    • For TransUnion, you can request consumer support by visiting: www.transunion.com/personal-credit/customer-support/request-customer-support.page.
    • For Experian: Experian requests that you first obtain a copy of your Experian credit report by visiting Experian online or by calling 1-888-397-3742. Once you have your Experian personal credit report, contact the number displayed on the report for assistance.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commissionby going to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov; or 
  • Submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by visiting www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/, clicking on "Credit reporting" and following the instructions provided.

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Dealer still hasn't sent in title application on car I bought last month

December 5, 2013 19:43 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I recently bought a used car from a dealership.  It has now been four weeks since the purchase and I still have not received my registration.  Now, my temporary dealer plate is set to expire in the a few days and I don't have my permanent license plate.  What can I do?

Consumer Ed Says:

There are a number of reasons why you might not yet have received these documents.  First, when a dealer transfers a vehicle to the buyer, the dealer has 30 days from the date of purchase in which to apply for a new title in the buyer's name.  Based on the fact that you bought the vehicle about 28 days ago, the dealer is just reaching the end of this time period.  If the dealer hasn't submitted the application yet, this would explain why you can't get your new tag.  Another possibility is that the dealer applied for the new title in your name, but the application was rejected because it was not properly submitted.  When this happens, the dealership submitting the application is given 60 days from the initial rejection date to resubmit its application.  Also, keep in mind that if you financed the vehicle, the new title will be issued in your name, but sent to the finance company to hold until you've paid for the vehicle in full.

Failure to submit the application and supporting documents within the initial 30-day time period will result in a $10.00 fee assessed against the dealer. Additionally, if the dealership willfully fails to obtain a title for you, it may be subject to having its dealer license suspended or revoked. Assuming that the dealer is in the process of applying for your title, you should immediately apply for an extension to the initial registration period. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to a one-time, 30-day extension if you meet the following requirements:

1. Owner purchased the vehicle from a new or used motor vehicle dealer;

2. The new or used motor vehicle dealer has issued the buyer a temporary dealer license plate with an expiration date 30 days after the date of purchase;

3. A new title has not been issued in the name of the purchaser 25 days after the date of purchase; and

4. The dealer temporary license plate has not expired.

Since you appear to meet all of these requirements, you should be eligible.  You'll need to print and fill out an extension application, (by going to the Motor Vehicle Division section of the Georgia Department of Revenue's website at motor.etax.dor.ga.gov), then bring the application, along with your original bill of sale from the car dealer and the temporary license plate, to your county tag agent.  The county tag agent will then issue you a temporary 30-day operating permit free of charge.

If you've contacted the dealership, haven't received a straight answer about your title application's progress, and have reason to believe that the dealer has willfully failed to apply for your title, you should seek advice from an attorney.  You can also file a complaint with the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.georgia.gov (or by calling 404-651-8600), and the Georgia Secretary of State at http://sos.georgia.gov/plb/usedcar/complaint.htm. 

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Selling a Lemon Law buyback car

November 12, 2013 12:23 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I purchased a Lemon Law buyback car three years ago. I am now preparing to sell the vehicle and want to know if there is anything I need to disclose to the purchaser. 

Consumer Ed Says:

yes. After a manufacturer buys back a defective vehicle, it can scrap the vehicle or correct the defect. If the defect is corrected, the car can be sold or leased to a subsequent consumer, as it was in your case. In that event, the manufacturer must ensure that a disclosure form, the Reacquired Vehicle Notice, describing the defect is signed by the first person who purchases or leases the vehicle. The manufacturer is required to provide the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection with a copy of that signed disclosure document. The disclosure form should then be included with all documentation when that vehicle is sold in the future.

While only the manufacturer is required to provide a signed copy of the disclosure to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, the disclosure form should be provided in each subsequent transfer, sale or lease of the vehicle. This means that you should provide that Reacquired Vehicle Notice form to the buyer. If you no longer have the form, then please contact the manufacturer to request a copy. 

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