Additional products sold to buyers during the financing process along with their terms and conditions continue to create issues for servicemembers, according to the newest report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The agency’s Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA) monitors and analyzes complaints from servicemembers, veterans and military families. The regulator released its annual report last week that contained a specific segment dedicated to rehashing how add-on products are triggering issues.
The bureau reported that roughly 75 percent of servicemembers have a vehicle and make monthly payments. The regulator acknowledged many add-ons are marketed as particularly helpful to servicemembers due to the unique aspects of military life.
“We have heard from many servicemembers who did not understand that these add-ons were optional and that they would be added to the total amount financed,” officials said in the 40-page report that’s available here.
“We have heard from many servicemembers who didn’t understand how they wound up financing thousands of dollars in add-on products like service contracts, window etching, guaranteed asset protection (GAP), key replacement warranty and tire, dent and paint protection packages,” the CFPB continued.
The report went on to mention that confusion about GAP intensified when the servicemember took the vehicle overseas. Officials recapped what they were told:
“I am a military member... (Company) is refusing to pay on the GAP insurance that I purchased at the time I signed the financing agreement. While stationed at (military base), I purchased a (new car) … When I purchased the vehicle the original financing agreement included an option to purchase GAP insurance for an additional (cost). ... (Company) agreed in writing for me to ship my vehicle to (country) when I received military orders re-assigning me to (country). The letter explicitly authorized me to drive the vehicle here in (country) while I am stationed overseas. The vehicle was totaled in an accident. Now (company) is refusing to honor the GAP insurance/waiver provisions because the loss occurred outside of the United States. … I simply want (company) to honor its commitment to cover the deficiency between the insurance payout and the remaining balance on the loan.”
The bureau emphasized at the close of its section on auto financing that, “It remains important for servicemembers to comparison shop when it comes to car add-on products such as GAP.”
The bureau reiterated that complaints submitted by servicemembers serve as a key initial indicator of emerging issues and continuing trends in the financial marketplace.
The report is designed to provide data and analysis around the most common complaints submitted by servicemembers. These complaints are used to help to inform the bureau and external stakeholders in addressing these issues as they evolve.
The bureau went on to note that the majority of complaints received from servicemembers during the reporting period revolve around credit or consumer reporting followed by debt collection issues.
“We regularly hear from servicemembers who are worried that incorrect information on their credit reports will put their security clearance, duty status, potential promotion or even military career in jeopardy. Recent changes to the Department of Defense (DOD) security clearance rules make credit reporting and debt collection issues even more important to resolve as quickly as possible,” officials said in the report.