Millions of Americans with shoddy credit are being offered auto loans by used car dealerships, regardless of their ability to pay back the money, the New York Times reported Sunday. As a result, the loans come with terms that take advantage of desperate customers who aren’t financially savvy.
The trend is similar to the frenzied subprime market in 2008, which in turn helped kick off the 2008 financial crisis.
The Times told the story of a man who received a loan for more than $15,000 even though he hadn’t worked since 1991, was living off Social Security and whose application said he made $35,000 annually. The bank ultimately repossessed his car.
The number of auto loans being given to people who have tarnished credit has risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the financial crisis, the Times wrote. One in four people, who aren’t considered prime candidates or those with a credit score of less than 640, are being granted auto loans.
These loans have exploded with investors benefiting from the high interest rates. The Times found interests rates could exceed 23 percent after looking at more than 100 bankruptcy court cases, dozens of civil lawsuits against lenders and hundreds of loan documents. The payments would total many times the actual purchase price, potentially hurling vulnerable borrowers into further debt and sometimes bankruptcy.
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Following the mortgage boom, the Times found dozens of loans that included falsified information about borrowers’ income and employment, which led people who had lost their jobs, in bankruptcy or living on Social Security to qualify for loans they could not afford.`
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