Financing

AUL promotes 2 executives to new positions

NAPA, Calif. - 

This week, vehicle service contracts administrator AUL Corp. announced the executive promotions today of Bryan Nieves to vice president of national accounts and Henry Paoli to national sales manager.

According to Jason Garner, AUL’s senior vice president of sales and business development, both promotions are effectively immediately.

Nieves was previously national accounts manager, a position in which he successfully cultivated vital long-term relationships with dealers, finance companies and agents during his 20 year tenure with AUL. According to Garner, Nieves has been the driving force behind AUL’s Preferred Partner Lending Program and Reinsurance Initiative, which has been well received by AUL clients.

Formerly business development manager, the company highlighted Paoli’s promotion came as a direct result of his passion for the business, ability to forge new relationships and generate results. While continually growing AUL’s agent client base, AUL mentioned Paoli remains focused on the long-term health of a client relationship versus a short-term gain.

“It is this type of leadership style that represents the AUL way,” Garner said.

Prior to joining AUL, Henry spent more than nine years as regional sales manager for GE Capital and more than 23 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“Both Bryan and Henry continue to excel in their positions, while embodying the values to which AUL Corp. continually strives to uphold,” Garner said. “We are so pleased to announce their promotions and anticipate there will be more exciting announcements to come as a result of these two individuals’ efforts and work ethic.”

RateGenius hits new milestone, aims for 400,000 refinanced contracts

AUSTIN, Texas - 

RateGenius, an online auto refinancing platform, recently reached a milestone by refinancing more than 334,738 installment contracts, saving customers an estimated $350.5 million since its inception in 1999.

“It’s gratifying to know that we've helped so many people save such a magnitude of money. Knowing that many people live paycheck to paycheck lets me know that we provide a valuable service, and I'm extremely proud of that,” RateGenius chief executive officer Chris Brown said.

RateGenius now looks forward to helping 400,000 people refinance their vehicles — 334,738 down, 62,262 to go.

“You do good things, good things come,” Brown said. “Our momentum is tremendous. People are realizing that we are great and are telling their friends. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising.

“Every day the number of referrals that we get grows. We look forward to seeing our network grow and continuing to help as many people save money as we can,” Brown went on to say.

Edmunds notices down payments keep rising for used and new financing

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

While many of the August auto finance metrics Edmunds compiled and shared remained stable on a year-over-year basis, analysts did spot one rise that should be pleasing to finance companies.

Edmunds noticed increases in down payments in August for both new- and used-vehicle transactions, compared to the same month last year. For new models, the average down payment climbed by 5.9 percent to land at $3,667.

The average used-vehicle down-payment jump was even more, coming in at $2,480, which represented a 7.2 percent increase year-over-year.

Looking back to five years ago, Edmunds found that down payments on both used and new financing is much higher. Analysts pegged the rise on the new-model side at 9.1 percent and 14.7 percent for used vehicles.

As seen in the chart below, Edmunds determined four of the other major auto finance metrics did not change much in August.

New-Vehicle Financing Trends
  August 2017 Change from August 2016 5-Year Change
 Term  69.3 months  0.8%  6.8%
 Monthly Payment  $507  0.6%  10.1%
 Amount Financed  $30,473  0.2%  15.5%
 APR  4.8%  10.9%  17.8%

 

Used-Vehicle Financing Trends
  August 2017  Change from August 2016 5-Year Change
 Term  66.7 months  -0.1%  5.5%
 Monthly Payment   $382  1.4%  5.1%
 Amount Financed  $21,091  0.9%  11.2%
 APR  7.5%  2.6%  -6.1%

 

 

 

FactorTrust partners with Enova Decisions to bolster consumer credit availability

ATLANTA - 

This week, alternative credit data provider FactorTrust announced a partnership with predictive analytics and digital decisioning company, Enova Decisions, to integrate FactorTrust’s proprietary data into its Colossus digital decisioning platform.

Executives highlighted the integration will strengthen Enova Decisions’ platform with additional proprietary data that will result in improved automated, real-time operational decisions for its customers.

Chicago-based Enova Decisions supports numerous industries, including financial services, telecommunications and higher education. The company’s data-driven solutions can help clients in the financial services industry specifically improve their operational decisions instantly and at scale.

“FactorTrust is proud to assist industry leaders like Enova Decisions with their data needs,” FactorTrust chief executive officer Greg Rable said. “Our alternative credit data enables their clients to gather the full picture on likely consumers, thereby extending appropriate credit options to consumers that may otherwise not receive it — a shared goal of FactorTrust and Enova Decisions.”

In its 14-year history, Enova, parent company to Enova Decisions, has extended more than $19 billion in credit to nearly 5 million customers around the world, using Enova Decision’s advanced analytics and decisioning technology.

“Adding additional non-traditional data is important to our overall data integration strategy,” Enova Decisions chief analytics officer Joe DeCosmo said. “FactorTrust’s proprietary data helps fill in the gaps that traditional data can’t provide—and contributes to our analysis of consumer data in real-time through our tailored analytics, AI and decisioning technology.

“This further enables our clients to quickly transform their underwriting, offers, payments decisions and more, to deliver a better customer experience and improve business performance,” DeCosmo added.

FactorTrust again among Inc. 5000

In other company news, FactorTrust was named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. by Inc. 5000. For the second consecutive year, not only was the company the only private, alternative credit bureau to make the list, but it was also ranked the eighth fastest-growing financial services firm in Georgia.

This is the fourth year FactorTrust has been named to the list for its significant growth in revenue and company size. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small and midsized businesses. The average company on the list achieved a three-year growth of 481 percent.

“Our growing team of industry champions set us on the path to unprecedented growth in both revenue and innovation in recent years,” Rable said. “Our team’s expertise, coupled with better recognition of the impact of alternative credit data for evaluating creditworthiness of underbanked consumers, is driving FactorTrust as the leading alternative credit reporting and analytics agency.”

The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs over the past three years. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

“The Inc. 5000 is the most persuasive evidence I know that the American Dream is still alive,” Inc. president and editor in chief Eric Schurenberg said. “The founders and CEOs of the Inc. 5000 tell us they think determination, risk taking, and vision were the keys to their success, and I believe them.”

Survey shows how dealers struggle to grasp potential of F&I programs

ST. LOUIS - 

A recent survey of dealers showed how some operators are struggling to understand the complexities of F&I programs, resulting in limited penetration during vehicle deliveries.

Protective Asset Protection, which operates dealer-owned warranty programs (DOWC) and other F&I products for dealers, recently conducted an online survey of 1,500 dealer professionals in the U.S. When asked about the biggest challenge with their current F&I products, 29 percent of dealer respondents said both “too much of an administrative burden," and “doesn’t offer enough margin for the dealership.”

When asked why they don’t use a dealer-owned warranty product, 27 percent of respondents said it sounds too complicated for them. Another 24 percent of participants added that they don’t want to change from their current program.

Meanwhile, another 21 percent of store managers surveyed acknowledged that they both “don’t understand how the program works” and “not sure how it would benefit their dealership.”

Protective Asset Protection explained in a message to SubPrime Auto Finance News that the company polled franchise and independent dealers that range from five to 50 rooftop locations. The number of vehicles these stores sold each month varied. But Protective Asset Protection indicated “it is safe to assume” the range fell between 15 and 100 units or more each month.

And those participating stores appear to be having some struggles with F&I product penetration.

The survey determined only 12 percent of dealers said more than 50 percent of their customers purchase a vehicle service contract, and only 6 percent said more than 50 percent of customers purchase an ancillary product, such as tire and wheel, appearance protection, windshield and key fob coverage.

Protective Asset Protection officials explained what segments of the survey results they expected and which parts came as a surprise.

“From the results, we learned a few key things that continue to have an effect on dealers and their businesses,” they said. “First, many dealers are still unaware of how a dealer owned warranty company program could benefit them, or that it is not as complex an undertaking as many believe.

“With our acquisition of US Warranty Corp., we’ve added what we believe to be the foremost authority on DOWCs. We think it’s important for a dealer to be exposed to a full range of participation programs so they can make a truly informed decision,” they continued.

“Second, margins remain a key to success. We know that SAAR is falling from past years, and a well-managed F&I program is a great way for dealers — both franchised and independent — to realize greater margins,” Protective Asset Protection officials went on to say. “Turning back to the DOWC opportunity, dealers can have more control over their F&I program without taking on the entire administrative burden, since they become the owner of their F&I products.

“Third, the results of this survey show that there is still room for improvement on the volume F&I products sold to customers. Having the right F&I program can result in higher customer satisfaction levels throughout the ownership cycle,” they added.

Protective Asset Protection officials also described what the reaction is like when the understanding clicks for a dealer about how dealer-owned warranty programs could be beneficial. 

“Our network of dealers is extremely pleased with the results of their DOWC programs, largely because the USWC team has been offering this unique program for over 40 years,” they said. “Dealers see margins increase from their F&I products.

“Plus, the level of administrative support they receive from us, along with the trust and credibility of the products offered to their customers, really seems to lead to more satisfied customers,” officials added.

The company also mentioned how will the study results can benefit both Protective Asset Protection as well as dealers looking to expand their profit potential.

“One of the things we found in the study is the lack of awareness, understanding and misperceptions that still exist for a DOWC,” the company said. “We’re hoping the results of this study allow us to continue to build the conversation around the benefits of DOWC, particularly since the dealers in our network have demonstrated the results they have thus far, leading to higher profits and customer satisfaction levels.

“Really we want to help dealers see that there is a full range of participation options available. Whether it be a DOWC, CFC, NCFC, we’ve been helping dealers find the right option for their needs for a long time and we see the results of this recent survey as an indicator that there,” officials went on to say.

Protective Asset Protection provides vehicle protection plans, GAP, ancillary products, training and other F&I services through vehicle dealerships. Protective Asset Protection has been serving dealers for more than 55 years.

More details can be found at www.protectiveassetprotection.com.

Kulas resigns; Powell now leading SCUSA

DALLAS - 

The parade of high-level executive leadership changes at Santander Consumer USA continued on Monday with the resignation of Jason Kulas as president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.

According to a news release, succeeding Kulas — who had held the finance company’s CEO role for a little more than two years — is Scott Powell, who will continue to serve as CEO of Santander Holdings USA (SHUSA) and as Santander Group’s U.S. head. After more than a decade of service, Kulas is stepping down to pursue other opportunities, the release indicated.

The company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission noted that Kulas submitted his resignation as a member of the board on Friday. Then on Sunday, he submitted his resignation as president and chief executive officer.

Kulas took control of Santander Consumer USA in July 2015 after founder Thomas Dundon departed the finance company. Since that time, Blythe Masters held a position on the finance company’s board, and then relinquished it as current chairman Bill Rainer was elevated.

Now, Powell is leading SCUSA’s efforts, bringing with him extensive auto and risk management experience from more than three decades working in retail banking, risk management and consumer and auto financing.

Prior to joining Santander, Powell held a variety of senior roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., including head of banking and consumer lending operations, CEO of consumer banking and retail investments, head of retail lending, head of Chase Auto Finance, and chief risk officer, consumer. He also spent 14 years at Citigroup and its predecessors in a variety of senior risk management roles.

“Scott’s depth of experience makes him the right person to continue SC’s evolution and to sustain its long-term performance,” Rainer said. “Scott’s role as both SHUSA CEO and SC CEO will position SC to grow, to strengthen its commitment to customers and to progress toward operating at major financial institution standards.

"Scott has led significant changes across Santander's U.S. business, including improving the financial performance of Santander Bank, leading SHUSA's efforts to have its capital plan approved after passing the Federal Reserve's capital stress test and overseeing the work that led to the termination last week of SHUSA's 2014 Written Agreement with the Federal Reserve,” Rainer continued.

“As we welcome Scott to his new role, the SC board also thanks Jason Kulas for his service to SC, and wishes him well,” Rainer went on to say.

Powell first joined the Santander portfolio of companies in 2015, as well.

“I look forward to leading the Santander Consumer team,” Powell said. “My focus will be on strengthening the company’s financial and operational performance, delivering returns for all shareholders, improving risk management and putting our customers at the center of everything we do. That includes a focus on continuing to deliver value for Chrysler, a key part of Santander Consumer's business.”

In addition, Mahesh Aditya, chief operating officer of SHUSA, has been appointed to SC's board of directors.

The company highlighted Aditya has extensive experience in consumer lending and risk management. Prior to joining Santander, he was chief risk officer of Visa. He also spent 17 years at Citibank, and held senior operations and risk positions with JPMorgan Chase and Capital One.

Ways to reach consumers who check their smartphones 150 times a day

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

Experian senior director of digital credit marketing Scott Gordon acknowledged the proliferation of advertising mediums means there isn’t a “silver bullet” for dealerships and finance companies to use in order to showcase their options for consumers to purchase or lease a vehicle.

What Gordon and the Experian team also know is consumers look at their smartphones an average of 150 times per day, so finding ways for a store or finance provider to have its message appear at least once or perhaps more during those instances is paramount to a successful finance-oriented campaign nowadays.

“The current post-campaign analysis is showing us that consumers react positively to coordinated multi-channel messaging,” Gordon said during a Q&A session on Experian’s website that was shared with SubPrime Auto Finance News.

“We’ve seen studies showing that marketers can see up to a 30-percent lift in sales by combining email with social media, for example,” he continued. “This makes sense, when you look at how consumers engage through devices. We are no longer a single channel culture; we check Facebook while watching TV; listen to podcasts while checking our email, etc.”

“Consequently, marketers have had to adapt their campaign strategies accordingly – and this starts with the organizational structure,” Gordon went on to say. “Far too often we see silo’ed groups responsible for disparate media verticals. For example, a company may have a direct mail group and a digital marketing team, and then (in extreme cases) outsource television to one agency group and social media to another.

“Aligning these groups and breaking down the barriers between the groups is a critical first step toward building a true multi-channel campaign strategy,” he added. “This includes addressing budget concerns that are inherent with a culture where the size of a budget is tied to job security and corporate status. Aligning campaigns and finding the perfect cross channel market mix is much easier once you’ve broken down internal barriers and encouraged marketing collaboration.”

In an effort to help dealerships and finance companies clear all of these challenges, Experian developed what it’s dubbed Amplified Prospecting. The solution can deliver consumers a personalized, relevant and firm offer of credit through one or more preferred communication channels.

Instead of relying solely on traditional communications channels like direct mail, Experian explained a wide array of auto finance providers can reach consumers in the ways they want to be reached — through digital channels. It's a one-to-one approach that matches consumers with a tailored offer of credit.

Experian insisted this shift takes the direct-mail approach to an elevated level by augmenting it with an offer that could appear on mobile, display or a personal email and, in a few steps, a consumer can receive and accept a credit offer.

“Experian is the first to offer this type of solution. With our expertise in both credit and marketing services, this is a natural extension of our capabilities that further elevates the way lenders engage with consumers,” said Alex Lintner, president of consumer information services at Experian.

“Lenders will be able to create more effective campaigns that can reach the most qualified consumers in today’s digital environment,” Linter continued.

Experian's Amplified Prospecting solutions can combine credit data and a network of media partners with validated, addressable audiences to match auto finance companies with the right consumers with firm offers of credit — delivered via digital channels in a sequenced, measurable manner.

Amplified Prospecting solutions include:

—Digital display prescreen: Target consumers in a tailored online ad campaign based on creditworthiness, delivering a firm offer of credit digitally without the need for a direct-mail piece or email.

—Mobile options: Deliver firm offers of credit through media, digital display and advertising, and email partnerships connected to smartphones and mobile devices.

—Email prescreen: Process and prescreen a target or prospect list with access to several email service providers.

—Digital display retargeting: Retarget a firm offer of credit on digital and mobile to complement a direct-mail or email-prescreen campaign.

“With Amplified Prospecting, we are developing a personalized and seamless approach to giving consumers more flexibility by reaching them in ways that are the most accessible to them,” Lintner said.

“With consumers looking at their smartphones an average of 150 times per day and online purchases being completed with just a few clicks, we want to be there to offer the customized and optimized experience that consumers demand,” he went on to say.

Turning back to the Q&A session, Gordon emphasized how important it is for dealerships and finance companies to monitor their multi-prong campaigns not only to leverage this new technology but to keep up with the enhanced ways of tracking results.

“Thanks to tremendous efforts from industry leaders, we can now utilize regulated data with the same proficiency that they’ve been executing campaigns using non-regulated data,” Gordon said. “This presents unique challenges, as the industry races to get up-to-speed on new capabilities, take best-in-breed practices and apply them to the world of regulated campaigns.

“We’re seeing tremendous demand to combine programmatic advertising with people-based advertising, with cross-channel campaigns spanning mobile, video, social, and addressable TV,” he continued.

“Measurement and analytics must play a large part in these strategies. While the industry hasn’t achieved true cross-channel measurement to identify a consumer’s path to purchase across multiple devices, it’s getting closer, thanks to technology advances,” Gordon added.

AutoFi lands another $10M in funding, heading to Canada

SAN FRANCISCO - 

Investment continues to be pushed into new technology designed to respond to how consumers want to purchase and finance their next vehicle.

The newest development involves the captive associated with one of the Big 3 domestics.

Financial technology company AutoFi on Thursday announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The latest funding round includes existing investors Crosslink Capital, Ford Motor Credit, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

“AutoFi’s pioneering platform helps us make the consumer experience faster, smoother and simpler when they are ready to buy and finance a new vehicle,” said Lee Jelenic, Ford Motor Credit’s vice president of marketing. “We continue collaborating with AutoFi to add dealers who want to offer online vehicle buying and financing for their customers.”

Along with the additional financial resources, AutoFi said the firm also has entered into a strategic agreement with Tricor Automotive Group to bring its solution to dealerships across Canada.

The company highlighted the new funding will allow AutoFi to broaden its solution with new manufacturers and auto finance companies, expand internationally, and continue to build on its strong, and growing, new- and used-vehicle finance business.

Working with Tricor Automotive Group, one of the largest retail groups in Canada with more than 200 dealerships across every major automotive brand, AutoFi will launch in the Canadian market beginning in 2018.

These announcements arrived as AutoFi has expanded from enabling dealers to offer their customers online purchase and financing of new and used vehicles, to offering leasing as well. The company continues to build on its collaboration with Ford Motor Credit to enable digital financing for new-vehicle purchases in select Ford and Lincoln dealerships across the United States.

“AutoFi has experienced strong growth this year,” AutoFi chief executive officer Kevin Singerman said in a news release. “I’m excited that this new round of funding will help us accelerate that growth with our dealer, manufacturer, and lender partners — both here in America, and now Canada in the year to come.

“Customers all over the world want to be able to purchase a car the same way they make all their other purchases, which is at their own pace, in a transparent and straightforward way. AutoFi can help them do that,” Singerman continued.

AutoFi can allows consumers to lease or purchase a new or used vehicle digitally from a mobile device in the dealership showroom or remotely through a dealer’s website. The company's network of finance companies enable it to approve financing online in a matter of minutes and gives customers the option to customize their financing terms.

Autofi can then guide customers through trade-in valuation and additional products to help customers protect their investment.

“We recognize that consumer expectations for car buying are changing and will have a profound impact on our industry,” Tricor Automotive Group chief executive officer Joe Campbell said. “We have chosen to be leaders in the market to adopt new technology.

“We have associated with AutoFi because we believe their consumer-centric solution and strong team aligns with our vision to create a seamless digital purchase experience,” Campbell added.

UPDATED: 70 finance companies already listed with SuperMoney’s new platform

CARY, N.C. - 

More than 70 finance companies are now included with a technology startup that’s aiming to provide consumers with an online auto financing search and booking process similar to what they already can use to secure flights or hotel rooms.

SuperMoney, which rolled out a similar personal loans platform back in April, this week officially launched its auto finance tool, according to a blog post on its website.

A further search of SuperMoney’s website showed the variety of auto finance providers that are listed with this technology company, including subprime specialists such as Credit Acceptance, Exeter Finance, First Investors Financial Services, Santander Consumer USA and Westlake Financial Services.

A wide array of captives are listed, including GM Financial, Ford Motor Credit, Hyundai Motor Finance, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. and Toyota Financial Services. The commercial bank involvement is extensive, too, as the list features Bank of America, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bank, Regions Bank and PNC Bank.

Several other market leaders have a connection with SuperMoney’s platform, as well, such as Ally Financial, Chase Auto Finance, Capital One Auto Finance and USAA.

SuperMoney explained in the blog post that its auto finance offer engine can allow consumers to submit a single, online application and receive multiple offers in return. The site indicated the tool can make “apples to apples” comparisons when consumers are shopping for the best auto financing rates, fees and terms.

The platform can help consumers if they’re looking to make a vehicle purchase at a dealership or through a private-party transaction, as well as if they’re looking to refinance their current installment contract.

The blog post also noted that participating finance companies only conduct a soft pull of consumer credit files during the initial process.

“The traditional auto financing experience is antiquated — like purchasing an airline ticket 20 years ago,” SuperMoney chief executive officer Miron Lulic said in the blog post. “These days buying an airline ticket is fast and easy. We’ve brought that same great comparison shopping experience to the auto loan industry.”

Lulic replied to a message sent by SubPrime Auto Finance News asking for more details about how SuperMoney got involved in the auto finance space.

Lulic described how SuperMoney was able to land arrangements with such an array of auto finance providers.

“SuperMoney has been around for several years. We’ve built relationships over time and continue to do so. Our site traffic started to grow exponentially in the last year which has made the conversations quite a bit easier,” he said.

Lulic then pointed out how ow SuperMoney can cater to consumers throughout the credit spectrum.

“SuperMoney stores detailed data on every financial service listed on the site,” he said. “For example, target FICO ranges, product attributes such as loan amounts, supported states and basic underwriting guidelines.

“This allows us to narrowly segment every users who lands on our website to help them discover their best options. Our goal is to help every user find their best option,” Lulic continued.

Finally, Lulic also addressed how SuperMoney generate revenue through auto financing.

“SuperMoney is an advertising platform, and we are compensated for the referrals we make to our partners on everything from a CPC (cost per click) to a CPA (cost per acquisition) basis,” Lulic said.

“Unlike dealers, this is not structured as a dealer reserve markup. The offers shown in our loan offer engine are the offers returned by our partners and we don’t adjust them to account for our own fees,” he went on to say.

New York AG returns to making dealer settlements over F&I misdeeds

NEW YORK - 

After taking a trio of actions involving more than two dozen dealerships in the span of about a year, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman wielded his enforcement powers again this week in association with F&I activities.

Schneiderman announced a $298,000 settlement with Nissan of New Rochelle for what the Empire State’s top law enforcement agent said was deceptively charging hundreds of consumers for an “unwanted and bogus anti-theft product that cost up to thousands of dollars per consumer.”

The New York AG asserted this after-sale product often was added onto the final cost of the vehicle without the consumer’s knowledge or consent, after the customer had agreed upon the purchase price of a vehicle but before the installment contract was finalized.

Following a consumer complaint in August 2015 that Nissan of New Rochelle had fraudulently sold an after-sale product, the office commenced an investigation into the dealership’s practices. The investigation found that Nissan of New Rochelle sold hundreds of consumers a product called Total Loss Protection, which was meant to serve as a theft deterrent. 

The investigation noted that consumers were charged amounts ranging from $215 to over $5,000. In many instances, Nissan of New Rochelle added this fee onto the final sales price without the knowledge or consent of the consumers. As a result, the final price paid by the consumers was inflated by the amount charged for the after-sale product.

Furthermore, officials determined Nissan of New Rochelle failed to clearly disclose the nature of the after-sale product to its customers. The “Total Loss Protection” or “Total Loss Protection Guarantee” product was advertised as a permanent etch or engraving of the vehicle’s VIN, or a registered serial number, on the windows of the vehicle — supposedly to deter theft. However, officials indicated Nissan of New Rochelle did not actually etch the VIN onto the windows of the vehicles.

Instead, for some vehicles, the attorney general’s office found the dealership placed sticker decals with assigned registration numbers on the inside of the door or door-jamb where no one could see them, thus having no deterrent effect. For other vehicles, the dealership did not even provide stickers or decals, according to the investigation.

New York officials went on to mention consumers were also led to believe that there would be a guaranteed credit up to either $3,000 or $5,000 toward the purchase of a new vehicle should their car be stolen. However, there were numerous conditions and limitations — such as that the credit would not be applied if it eliminated the dealership’s profit on the sale — which rendered the “credit” illusory, according to officials.

The AG’s office added that only one consumer ever received a credit through the Total Loss Protection program.

Under the agreement, Nissan of New Rochelle will refund $276,127 to 298 consumers who were charged an add-on fee for the Total Loss Protection product. In addition to restitution, the dealership will also pay $22,084 in penalties, fees, and costs to the State. The dealership has also agreed to certain reforms to its sales practices, including:

—Fully disclosing that any and all after-sale services or products are optional and that the price is negotiable

—Clearly explaining to each consumer any and all after-sale services or products being offered by the dealership

—Only adding an after-sale service or product to the final bill with the knowledge and full consent of the consumer

“Consumers should not have to worry that they are being scammed into adding on bogus products and services when they purchase a car,” Schneiderman said.

“Buying a car is already a major investment for many families, and tacking on thousands of dollars extra can become a significant financial burden,” he continued. I am pleased that we are able to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to the nearly 300 consumers who were scammed and defrauded.”

Last summer, a stretch of actions by Schneiderman concluded with a settlement involving another Nissan store. Lia Nissan of Saratoga was required to pay $101,986 in restitution to 119 consumers who were charged illegal fees and/or subjected to a variety of deceptive sales and advertising practices