Measure Would Extend Greater Protections to Consumers
(TRENTON) — Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman Paul D. Moriarty (D-Gloucester) issued a multimedia package Friday on his legislation to regulate the use of GPS-enabled ignition interlocks by auto lenders.
Lenders use the devices as an extra layer of protection against default when lending to customers with bad credit. It’s estimated that about 2 million vehicles are equipped with these devices nationwide, however safety concerns have arisen as borrowers have reportedly had their vehicles remotely disabled while idling or in motion.
Moriarty’s bill (A-4033) would seek to add consumer safeguards to the use of these GPS interlock devices such as requiring that borrowers know the car is equipped with such a device and ensuring that lenders cannot remotely disable a vehicle while it is on or in motion.
The multimedia package consists of Moriarty discussing his legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Moriarty’s comments is appended below:
Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (D-Gloucester), Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Chair:
“These devices are used by car financing companies, primarily towards people with poor credit, and what they do is they install a GPS system on your car that also has a starter interrupter system. So, if you’re late on your loan, they can shut off the car so that you can’t drive it. That pretty much makes you make that payment or your car is useless. So, if you make the payment you can continue driving. If you don’t they know exactly where it is so they can come and pick it up.
“We have had information about the use of these devices, where people are stranded at shopping centers with their kids and they weren’t able to start the car because it was turned off. So, we wanted to see whether there’s a roll for these types of devices in car loans.
“And the other thing that I’m concerned about is these types of starter interrupter GPS devices reduce the default rate considerably. Some of these car companies are reducing their default rates by 95 percent but they’re still charging people 29 percent interest. I think that that is outrageous and I think that we need to look at that. Certainly if you’re putting a device on that pretty much guarantees that the loan will either be paid or the car company will know exactly where their car is to come pick it up, you should probably get a break on the interest rate. So, these are the things that we want to look at.
“I’m going to sit down with the representatives of the various industries and consumer groups and try to find a compromise that would allow for perhaps the use of this technology with safeguards. Safeguards like: 1. everybody has to know it’s in their car; 2. that it could never be used to shut off a vehicle in motion. I think also that people should get a break on the interest rate if they have this on their car, because it reduces the default rate. I also think that, in the State of New Jersey, we need to have a cooling off period — a notification period — so that they can’t shut your car off on the first day that you’re late on a payment. So those are things that we should look at.”