More Than 2,000 Massachusetts Consumers May Be Eligible for Restitution
In response to claims that it had violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws, the automobile financing company, GM Financial has entered into an assurance of discontinuance with the Attorney General agreeing to pay more than $1.8 million to resolve allegations concerning refund practices for its Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) enrollment fees and its notices on some auto repossessions. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, GM Financial is the trade name for Americredit Financial Services, Inc., an automobile financing company that General Motors bought in 2010. GM Financial, in addition to financing automobile purchases for automobile dealers, also offers GAP coverages for vehicles sold or leased through automobile dealers.
Per GM Financial’s website, its AmeriPlus GAP program provides protection for a dealership’s customers stating that “If a total loss occurs, AmeriPlus GAP will pay the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the current outstanding balance on the customer’s loan or lease.”
The Attorney General’s claims against GM Financial resolved in the assurance of discontinuance
As outlined in the assurance of discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the case against GM Financial focused on allegations that it had failed to pay legally-required interest to consumers after delays in providing refunds of Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) enrollment fees. The Attorney General’s Office also alleged that GM Financial allegedly failed to provide sufficient information to certain consumers after repossessing their vehicles.
In particular, the assurance of discontinuance alleged that GM Financial “…failed to refund to certain consumers interest on unearned premiums on guaranteed asset protection (“GAP”) contracts, as required M.G.L. c. 140D §22.” Under this statute, a creditor, such as GM Financial, “who does not make a good faith effort to refund the credit balance, as required…., shall pay to the customer interest thereon at the annual percentage rate of 18%.”
A mutually agreed trustee will administer the restitution from GM Financial’s payment
Per the assurance of discontinuance, GM Financial had to pay within days to pay $1,849,182 to an independent trust for purposes of (i) making payments to provide relief for eligible customers, (ii) paying costs of implementation, and (iii) paying the Attorney General’s costs of investigation. The independent trustee to oversee the trust is to be mutually agreed upon by the Attorney General’s Office and GM Financial.
Attorney General’s statement on the assurance of discontinuance
“We alleged that GM Financial failed to provide borrowers with needed information, and failed to pay interest that legally belonged to those consumers,” said AG Healey. “We hope this settlement provides relief to the thousands of borrowers who have been affected by GM Financial’s alleged actions.”
The Attorney General’s Office in announcing the settlement estimated that “More than 2,000 Massachusetts residents across the state may be eligible for restitution under the settlement.”
The Attorney General’s team that negotiated the assurance of discontinuance with GM Financial
Th GM Financial case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Sugar, Mathematician Burt Feinberg, and Legal Analyst Maggie Wallace of the Attorney General’s Insurance & Financial Services Division.