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I won't name the auto financing company here just in case they're trolling.

My issue is this: our auto loan matured in July 2017, and we were never notified that there were any penalties, fees, after-the-fact late payment charges, etc., before that time. We only received monthly statements with the car payment amount and "pay after this date and you must pay an additional $XX.XXX late fee" which, when we were a couple of days over, we paid the late fee.

So here we are, thinking we've paid everything they asked but now there's an additional $3700 to be paid that accrues interest every month!

In the past, when we were late, we were in contact with their account reps via e-mail (saved all e-mails). We asked and received the total amount due (incl. late fees) in order to "bring your account up to date until such-and-such date", so paying everything they asked, we thought we did everything right. It's why it's so surprising that, after the contractual 'mature date', they continued to send us statements as if nothing changed.

NOTE: We never received any letters to inform us of any penalties, etc, or any after-mature-date balance they want to collect on - they never printed the balance on the monthly statements - and there's never been any letters informing us there was a "pay-off" balance that we were still obligated to pay. So in absence of that, we wrote them a letter asking why they keep sending us statements, disputing we owe them anything. We were disputing a charge of $460.75 that “includes delinquent payments, late fees, and other charges”  .

We sent the letter certified w/RRR nearly a month ago for clarification. In that letter, we also requested that this amount is in dispute and that all calls in attempt to collect must halt. They didn't stop calling and continued even after receiving the letter--and until this day. Also, we get e-mails almost on a daily basis. Although we sent the letter nearly a month ago, we have yet to receive a written response.

Last night, finally, I received an e-mail claiming that we owed them not $460.75 but a whopping total of $3700 (pay-off amount as of that day--e-mail sent at 6:30 their time)! Attached to that e-mail was a print-out that's almost impossible to read and I don't trust since office print-outs can be manipulated. Our letter to them asked for an itemization. I believe the print-out is insufficient to satisfy clarification of the balance, and it's hard to read with codes they use but are alien to us.

Had they written us a couple of months back, we would have added that amount to the loan when we bought a new car for my husband last month. Now that the financing went through, we're out of luck.

My question now is, what do we do now? Anyone with any experience with this situation? Please let me know what my next course of action should be. Since they never wrote us to let us know there were penalties, etc., after the contract 'matured', and they simply continued to send statements with the car payment amount, is this even legal? Can they put interest on top of interest (penalties, late fees, etc.)?

I know I might be out of luck here, but I need some experienced advice on this.

Thanks so much!

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12 hours ago, Seadragon said:

Call the consumer finance bureau. This sounds fishy.

Hi Seadragon. Thank you for responding.

Do you mean the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)?

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23 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

NOTE: We never received any letters to inform us of any penalties, etc, or any after-mature-date balance they want to collect on - they never printed the balance on the monthly statements - and there's never been any letters informing us there was a "pay-off" balance that we were still obligated to pay. So in absence of that, we wrote them a letter asking why they keep sending us statements, disputing we owe them anything.

Unless the loan contract required it they are not required to send a formal letter stating you still owe a balance.  The statement does that and meets the minimum standard of notification.

One question I have is did you ever defer a payment during the loan?  Often times a lender will send an offer around the holidays or the beginning of summer offering to defer a payment so you have extra money for Christmas or vacation.  The interest does not defer and it extends the loan.  It isn't uncommon for consumer to forget they did this and their loan will take a month or several more to pay off after the original pay off date.

23 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

Had they written us a couple of months back, we would have added that amount to the loan when we bought a new car for my husband last month. Now that the financing went through, we're out of luck.

This doesn't make any sense.  If you used this car as a trade and it was financed then the lender had a lien on it.  You did not have clear title and the new dealer would have had to pay off that balance to get a clear title when you traded it.

23 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

Since they never wrote us to let us know there were penalties, etc., after the contract 'matured', and they simply continued to send statements with the car payment amount, is this even legal?

Yes sending a statement saying there was still a balance is legal.  

23 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

Can they put interest on top of interest (penalties, late fees, etc.)?

If the loan contract says they can:  yes.  Interest continues to accrue on any unpaid balance at the rate specified in the loan.

23 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

My question now is, what do we do now?

I would start with a Consumer Attorneys and see if the error is on your side or theirs.  Most will do a first consult for free and will be faster than the CFPB

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Hi ClydesMom, and thank  you for responding.

Quote

Unless the loan contract required it they are not required to send a formal letter stating you still owe a balance.  The statement does that and meets the minimum standard of notification.

But our contract *does* require they notify us of any changes:
 

Quote

 

How Late Payments or Early Payments change what you must pay:

Changes may take the form of a larger or smaller final payment or, at our option, more or fewer payments of the same amount as your scheduled payment with a smaller final payment. We will send you a notice telling you about these changes before the final scheduled payment is due.

 

I never received any notice other than monthly statements with minimal information--hence our shock.

Quote

One question I have is did you ever defer a payment during the loan?

No. The only offer they made was during tax time and if we'd like to pay off the loan early. We were late with a few payments but I always asked how much we owed to bring our account up to date, including late fees, accrued interest, etc. They emailed me the number and we've always paid everything they asked. This is why it's so shocking and surprising to read they're tacking on additional interest at the backend.

Quote

This doesn't make any sense.  If you used this car as a trade and it was financed then the lender had a lien on it.  You did not have clear title and the new dealer would have had to pay off that balance to get a clear title when you traded it.

I believe you misunderstood. We didn't use the car as a trade-in, but we were pre-approved for $10K more than we ultimately needed, and when our sales-person saw this auto loan on our credit report, he said that the new auto financing company would finance any balance still owed up to that amount. He said he could make that work, but we said 'no' because we firmly believed we were done with it. Taking an older auto loan into a new auto loan isn't new in California. In fact, many auto loan companies prefer it (more interest and more security for them).

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Yes sending a statement saying there was still a balance is legal.

Okay. But I don't think this is fair business practice since we didn't even know there was still a balance after contract mature date. I don't believe it's our job to do their bookkeeping.

Quote

If the loan contract says they can:  yes.  Interest continues to accrue on any unpaid balance at the rate specified in the loan.

IF they notified us that there was going to be an unpaid balance, as the contract required them to do, which they didn't.

Quote

I would start with a Consumer Attorneys and see if the error is on your side or theirs.  Most will do a first consult for free and will be faster than the CFPB

Thank you, ClydesMom. I think I might do that and submit a complaint with the CFPB.

Thank you so much for your help!

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8 hours ago, AuthorCat said:

Hi Seadragon. Thank you for responding.

Do you mean the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)?

Sorry meant Bureau of Consumer Affairs

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On 9/22/2017 at 4:45 PM, Seadragon said:

Sorry meant Bureau of Consumer Affairs

I looked up Tidewater on California Department of Consumer Affairs and they're there. I'll give them a call.

Thanks so much, Seadragon!

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UPDATE 04/13/2018 RESOLVED FAVORABLY! xbeer2):BigDance:

After filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (hereafter referred to as the CFPB), we were able to get Tidewater's attention and, after some back and forth via e-mails, were able to pay-off the account for a fraction (the amount we proffered) of the amount they say we owed, the removal of Tidewater tradeline from our credit reports, an official letter stating that the account is PAID IN FULL, and a clear title!

We got everything we wanted--and then some (complete removal of the account from our credit reports)!

After months of ignoring us, we decided to file a complaint with the CFPB and uploaded all correspondence, both snail-mail and e-mail, between us and Tidewater; copies of parts of the contract that showed they failed to hold their end of it (failure to notify us what we must pay before the last scheduled due date); and that despite the fact that the account was in dispute, they continued to report it negatively to the CRAs.

But this victory didn't come easy. It was like pulling TEETH.

After the 60 days the CFPB gives companies to respond to complaints filed by consumers, a person at Tidewater wrote the CFPB and LIED that they offered us a settlement (they didn't) and that we didn't keep in contact (we were the one keeping contact open, they gave us the cold shoulder and ignored us!). CFPB pretty much took their word for it, but I immediately wrote them via 'feedback' and complained that what they wrote was a LIE, and produced the e-mails that I'd uploaded to Google Docs (learned how to do that here!) and I wrote Belinda E., Director of Asset Recovery that they lied to the CFPB. ONE week later, I received a responding e-mail from her offering the above to pay off the account!

It was a lot of work making PDF copies of all the docs and filing a detailed complaint with the CFPB, but it was more than worth it! Not only don't we have to pay nearly $3,700 but they'll remove Tidewater's tradeline from our credit reports!

VICTORY!

We couldn't be happier! I hope someone else might be able to use this info if they find themselves in a similar situation.

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I would not be able to sleep at night if I didn't receive a statement with a current loan balance after making my payments each month.  I suppose I may just be a stickler for 24/7 accuracy because I've been burned before, but really glad to hear that everything worked out for you, in your favor!

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On 4/13/2018 at 5:05 PM, Seadragon said:

Great new day for you. Congratulations.:BigDance:

Thank you, Seadragon! We're incredibly happy with this outcome and have received more than we initially wanted from them. I hope this thread may help others who might come here to find a solution to a similar problem they're having. I had looked all over the internet hoping to find someone like us, but didn't find a single one. It was when I decided to post our issue and the resulting successful outcome here so others may be helped if they need it.

Our credit scores JUMPED. I was a low 500 and it jumped to nearly 600 (still not good but we're getting there!) and my hubby's score is nearly 700 after Tidewater dropped their tradeline from our credit reports! It was well worth the headaches and scanning and copying and fight.

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17 hours ago, myscoresawful said:

I would not be able to sleep at night if I didn't receive a statement with a current loan balance after making my payments each month.  I suppose I may just be a stickler for 24/7 accuracy because I've been burned before, but really glad to hear that everything worked out for you, in your favor!

Most companies do that, some don't. Tidewater didn't. They have an online service where you can most likely see the balance, but we got our loan seven years ago when they didn't have that option and therefore relied on paper statements.

What I believe was the clincher was their wrong reporting. I have our credit reports up to November 2017, and in those reports Tidewater continued to report negatively despite the fact that the account was in dispute and they weren't responding to our written correspondence.

When I wrote them to point this out; that they were in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (and I had more than enough evidence to take them to court) they responded with a boiler plate, "We must report accurately on how the account is handled, blah, blah, blah".

It's only when I made it 'official' with the CFPB and *then* wrote them and made note of their continued false reporting that they must've decided that it was best to remove the tradeline in its entirety in our deal because we had a strong FCRA case that would cost them more than the $3,700 they were trying to collect--and these attorneys work on contingency basis to boot.

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