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In Largest Settlement of Its Kind, AG Healey Secures $27 Million for Thousands of Massachusetts Consumers From Subprime Auto Lender

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BOSTONIn the largest settlement of its kind, national subprime auto lender Credit Acceptance Corporation (CAC) will pay more than $27 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey over a variety of alleged unfair practices relating to the company’s role in the origination, collection, and securitization of subprime auto loans.

The settlement, which was filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, requires CAC to pay a total of $27.2 million, and provide debt relief and credit repair to thousands of Massachusetts borrowers. Over 3,000 borrowers across the state are expected to be eligible for settlement funds, including many residents of marginalized communities in Springfield, Boston, Worcester, and Brockton. The settlement also requires CAC to make changes to its loan handling practices. 

“Thousands of Massachusetts consumers, many of them first-time car buyers, put their faith in CAC to help them with an auto loan, but were instead lured into high-cost loans, fell deeper in debt, and even lost their vehicles,” said AG Healey. “With this significant $27 million settlement, eligible Massachusetts drivers who have been suffering under the weight of a crushing car loan due to CAC’s deceptive practices will be able to receive relief and avoid new defaults. Predatory car loans, like predatory student loans or mortgages, hurt families and communities. Through our ongoing, extensive investigation into the subprime auto industry, we have a proven record of taking action and getting results for our residents who have been exploited by unscrupulous lenders.”

The AG’s Office sued CAC in August 2020 over the company’s practices relating to the origination, collection, and securitization of subprime auto loans. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that CAC made high-interest subprime auto loans that it knew or should have known many borrowers would be unable to repay. The AG’s lawsuit noted that while the company profited from these loans, borrowers experienced credit harm, and, in some instances, lost their vehicles or down payments. The complaint also alleged that some CAC borrowers were subject to hidden finance charges, which resulted in violations of the state’s 21 percent usury cap and that CAC engaged in unlawful collection practices. The AG’s lawsuit also contained allegations that CAC failed to inform investors that it topped off securitization loan pools with higher-risk loans. 

The AG’s action against CAC is part of her Office’s ongoing industry-wide review of securitization practices in the subprime auto loan market. AG Healey has been a national leader in holding subprime auto lenders accountable. In 2019, she reached a $5.5 million settlement with Exeter Finance for its alleged role in financing unfair subprime auto loans. Her office previously secured a similar settlement with Santander requiring the company to pay $22 million and provide over $7 million in debt relief to Massachusetts borrowers. The AG’s Office also obtained $12.9 million under settlements with Westlake Financial Services, American Credit Acceptance, and Santander over allegations that the companies charged usurious interest rates on auto loans. 

Borrowers eligible for relief under today’s settlement will be contacted by the AG’s Office. Borrowers with questions about settlement eligibility should contact AG Healey’s Insurance and Financial Services Division at 617-963-2240.

This matter was handled by Burt Feinberg, Peter Leight, Diana Hooley, David Lim, Madonna Cournoyer, Michael Sugar, Leah MacArthur, and Glenn Kaplan, with assistance from Arwen Thoman, Amanda Hesse, Lilia DuBois, Maggie Wallace, Gia Kim, and Rebecca Dutra, all from the Attorney General’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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