WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co’s U.S. lending arm agreed on Tuesday to pay a $4 million U.S. fine to settle a government agency’s allegation that it improperly 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 Japanese automaker’s North American unit, “wrongfully repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payments” or taken other actions. Nissan must pay up to $1 million to consumers subject to a wrongful repossession.
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.”
NMAC repossessed vehicles from consumers who made payments that decreased delinquency to less than 60 days past due or took other steps that should have prevented repossessions, the bureau said, adding 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.”
The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements “to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward,” the bureau said.
CFPB also found that 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.”
In 2018, auto dealerships assigned NMAC over 382,000 new loans and 299,000 new leases, CFPB said, adding the same year NMAC serviced $49.3 billion in outstanding loans and leases.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)