By Ryan C. Wood
If you have a title loan and are paying 20% or more in interest for the life of the loan you should really consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and reducing the percentage rate to around 5%. Yes, only around 5%. So you can get rid of your title loan, pink slip loan or equity loan by filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy. The chapter 13 plan reorganizes the debt owed and more or less gives you a new loan for 36 or 60 months depending upon your circumstances under reasonable terms. We have recently had an epidemic of clients with horrible title loans. The monthly car title loan payments were $1,710 and $2,100 respectfully. The percentage rates were above 80%! The highest cash for cars percentage rate we have ever witnessed in writing was 1,000 % interest. How can this be legal in California? Why have your state legislators not made this type of loan illegal?
What happened to state usury laws limiting interest rates?
First of all California title loan or cash for car loans are operating within a loophole in California usury law limiting interest rates. I previously wrote about the downfall of most state usury laws placing a cap on credit card interest rates. See www.westcoastbk.com/blog/2012/07/how-can-credit-card-companies-charge-such-high-interest-rates/ Our Supreme Court of the United States held in Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Corporation, 439 U.S. 299 (1978) that a bank could charge interest to customers allowed by the state law where the bank was located, not according to the limitations placed by the usury laws of the state the customer lived in. So what happened? A few states eliminated their usury laws limiting interest rates in that state. Banks then set up shop in the states without usury laws and charged their credit card customers higher credit card interest rates throughout the United States.
If you actually look up California State Usury Laws good luck. There are so many exemptions to the rule why have the rule at all? Title loans or equity loans are perfect example of a loophole being taken advantage of. Just because it is technically legal does that make it right? Our system works better when there is capitalism with a conscience. How can charging 99% interest ever be acceptable?
What is a title loan or cash for cars loan?
A title loan is when you have the pink slip for your vehicle because the vehicle has no outstanding loan but the owner of the vehicle needs some quick cash to take care of some other expense that must be paid soon. The title loan company will take the title to your vehicle and hold it until you pay off the loan. Now they have you and do whatever they want to you. Do you believe or think someone trying to obtain a car for cars or title loan has the money to fight when they are overcharged interest or payments are not properly accounted for? No, there is no recourse in most circumstances. I do not know the percentage of the vehicles repossessed for nonpayment on these title loans, but I have to believe these title loan companies are repossessing a lot of vehicles and making a killing auctioning them off. Or, title loan companies are making a killing charging additional fees for missed payments and stringing the loan out more and more making you pay more and more to get your vehicle title back.
How can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Help?
There are many ways filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will help you deal with horrible cash for cars or title loans. The first is permanently reducing the interest rate to hopefully around 5%. For example let us say you obtained a title loan about 6 months ago for $4,000 at 99% interest over 36 months. The monthly payment will be about $350.18 a month for 36 months or a total paid of $12,606.48 for the original $4,000 loan received. When filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy, assuming the principal balanced owed at the time of filing is around $3,650, you will pay that principal back at 5% or approximately pay $110 a month in the Chapter 13 Plan for the vehicle loan until the chapter 13 plan is completed in 36 months. And this is all by federal court order. You need to add in bankruptcy attorneys fees and the Chapter 13 Trustee fee to truly calculate the monthly chapter 13 plan payment.
If you really want to get into this topic and how the interest rate can be reduced so much, research topics dealing with the hanging paragraph of Section 1325(a)(9) and its interaction with Section 1325(a)(5) of the Bankruptcy Code. Most bankruptcy lawyers will talk about a vehicle being a 910 day vehicle loan or not.
Second, the amount you pay back on the loan could be reduced depending upon the value of the vehicle and the amount of the title loan.
Third and most important is you will no longer make the payments directly to the car title or equity loan company. Your loan payment will be paid through the chapter 13 plan and by the chapter 13 trustee. This should prevent any funny business with accounting for payments being made and ensure you will get your pink slip back after completing the chapter 13 plan. In the real world you will be at the mercy of the title loan company accounting for your payments properly and being honest about whether you completed the loan and should receive your pink slip back. Take a few minutes and research how many people have problems getting their pink slip back. No doubt someone is getting screwed right now.