Texas credit union praises CRIF Select for help during Hurricane Harvey recovery

CARY, N.C. - 

Six months since Hurricane Harvey battered the Lone Star State, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Texans in coastal towns, urban areas and rural counties continue to move forward with their unprecedented recovery.

And CRIF Select highlighted how it’s been involved with that process for Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU) and their auto finance customers.

“Expectedly, there is still much to do, and many Texans are still navigating their way through disaster recovery steps, especially survivors still living temporarily in hotels, short-term apartment rentals, with friends and family, or in temporary housing in the form of mobile homes, travel trailers or leased apartments,” FEMA said in a news release posted earlier this week.

“Funding from other federal agencies, nonprofit agencies and private sector donations also contributed to the recovery efforts, in addition to federal funds for immediate social needs to include crisis counseling, disaster legal aid, reimbursement to food banks and disaster unemployment,” FEMA officials added.

CRIF Select, a division of CRIF Lending Solutions and provider of indirect lending partner programs, aided TDECU for approximately six weeks during Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in 2017 as the credit union funded nearly $5 million in relief loans for its members.

“Having served members in hurricane-affected areas of Texas for over 62 years, TDECU knows it takes the reliability and dedication of partners like CRIF Select to ensure we are there for our membership when they need us the most,” said Margaret Hartenstine, vice president of wholesale lending at TDECU. “We are very thankful for all of the help CRIF Select was able to provide to our organization and our members during this critical time.”

Based in Lake Jackson, Texas, the vast majority of TDECU’s footprint is along the Gulf Coast. As the hurricane made landfall on Friday of that week in August, credit union leadership discussed whether they’d be able to open member centers in affected areas, which included Greater Houston, the Texas Crossroads and along the coast.

While self-service channels like online and mobile banking were available 24/7 to provide critical account access to members, a primary focus was being able to provide easy access to emergency funds with limited member center access and a call center at maximum capacity.

TDECU was able to open its member centers, but quickly became inundated with applications from members either directly or indirectly impacted and in need of emergency funding. While the credit union had a team of people to decision the applications, it lacked the ability to contact members and close the loans, Hartenstine explained.

“Because of our strong relationship with CRIF Select for processing of our indirect lending applications, I reached out to (CRIF Select president Jeremy Engbrecht) that weekend to see what assistance his team might be able to provide,” Hartenstine said. “Despite CRIF Select not having a call center, he told us he’d try to help in any way he could. They reached out to our members to explain the loan terms and fill in any other gaps. This helped us fund the loans and provide our members with access to critical emergency funds.”

Engbrecht added, “Our hearts immediately went out to the victims, their families and those communities affected by Harvey.

“The entire Select team, led by Terry Criger, was happy to help such a valued partner like TDECU in any way it could,” Engbrecht went on to say.

The needs of individuals and businesses impacted by Harvey continues to be monumental. FEMA put some figures together to help industry participants see the gravity of the situation, including:

—17: Disaster Recovery Centers that remain open to support survivors

—41: Counties designated for Individual Assistance

—53: Counties designated for Public Assistance

—103: Public Assistance obligated projects to repair critical infrastructure

—306: Communities in Harvey impacted area participating in the National Flood Insurance Program

—1,923: Survivors in temporary disaster housing

—8,750: Households temporarily in FEMA-funded hotels

—91,000: Flood insurance claims

—11,903,736:  Cubic yards of debris cleaned in Harvey impacted areas

—$19,976,306: Funds dedicated to Disaster Unemployment Assistance

—$625,000,000: Dollars obligated for Public Assistance projects

—$1,183,209,235: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds available for projects that lessen the impact of future disasters

—$1,557,571,583: Grants for Housing and Other Disaster-related expenses paid to survivors

—$3,100,000,000: Approved U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans 

—$8,300,000,000: National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payments

—$13,000,000,000: Money in survivors’ pockets from Federal and State grants, SBA low-interest disaster loans, and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payments

For more details, go to

Partnership rundown: Expansions at LAUNCHER.SOLUTIONS and F&I Express


Both LAUNCHER.SOLUTIONS and F&I Express each enhanced their offerings for dealerships and finance companies by adding more industry partners.

LAUNCHER.SOLUTIONS, a technology provider specializing in subprime auto finance originations, recently announced that it has added Kelley Blue Book to its list of data providers to offer vehicle trade-in values to finance companies using Launcher’s appTRAKER Loan Origination System.

Launcher reiterated that its appTRAKER Loan Origination System was designed by automotive experts with workflows specific to subprime and near-prime processes. The seamless integration between Launcher and Kelley Blue Book data can give finance companies access to trade-in values from within appTRAKER, which assists in ensuring origination amounts are current.

“Integrating Kelley Blue Book data into appTRAKER benefits our clients by providing a valuable resource they can use for assessing collateral risk on a loan,” said Nikh Nath, president of LAUNCHER.SOLUTIONS. “Kelley Blue Book trade-in values will help them make smarter business decisions.”

Meanwhile over at F&I Express, the company recently added USA ID Recovery to its aftermarket provider network in the Country

USA ID Recovery is an identity theft protection product that utilizes the latest technology, private and public security professionals and law enforcement agents to identify and mitigate consumer identity fraud. The service uses industry standard encryption and security processes to maintain data security and reliability.

“In late 2017 the U.S. experienced the single most serious data beach in its history,” said Jim Formanek, founder and president of USA ID Recovery. “Thieves now have the non-public, personal information of nearly 59 percent of all adults in America.

“Given the fact that everyone is at risk, why not show your customers that you offer products and services that cover everything from the car, to the driver and their family. If a customer does become a victim of identity theft, they will remember it was the dealership that provided this valuable service, saving them time, money and the headaches involved with ID theft,” Formanek continued.

F&I Express looks to streamline the aftermarket process for optimized efficiency to make F&I easier and more profitable for everyone involved.

“In this age of technology, our personal information can easily end up in the hands of a thief,” said Brian Reed, chief executive officer of F&I Express. “You can never be too careful, so having USA ID Recovery on board with us is a great opportunity to help more consumers protect themselves against identity theft — the fastest growing crime in the country.”

Top 20 cities that spend the most and least on vehicles


Consumers taking delivery of financed vehicles in places like Texas appear to be spending more for their units than in places like California, according to the latest analysis from personal finance website WalletHub.

Contained in the first-quarter installment of its Auto Financing Report, WalletHub determined this year’s cities that overspend and spend the least on vehicles. Half of the overspend rundown included cities in Texas, while seven communities in California landed among the spend-the-least mentions.

To assemble its listings that stemmed primarily from bank-originated contracts, WalletHub applied the following assumptions:

—$20,000 in financing for new models and $10,000 in financing for used vehicles

—80 percent loan-to-value ratio

—An excellent credit score of at least 720

After plugging in those parameters, here what analysts found:

Cities that Overspend on Cars
Lake Placid, Fla.
San Juan, Texas
Rio Grande City, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Dahlonega, Ga.
Donna, Texas
Kingsville, Texas
Bastrop, La.
Coachella, Calif.
Mercedes, Texas
Leesville, La.
Corsicana, Texas
Okeechobee, Fla.
Moultrie, Ga.
Brownsville, Texas
Pharr, Texas
San Benito, Texas
Cordele, Ga.
Brunswick, Ga.
Laredo, Texas

Cities that Spend the Least on Cars
Scarsdale, N.Y.
Bronxville, N.Y.
Los Altos, Calif.
Saratoga, Calif.
Mill Valley, Calif.
Cupertino, Calif.
Westport, Conn.
Darien, Conn.
Palo Alto, Calif.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Birmingham, Mich.
Westfield, N.J.
McLean, Va.
Garden City, N.Y.
Summit, N.J.
Ridgewood, N.J.
Lafayette, Calif.
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Lexington, Mass.
Oceanside, N.Y.

6 questions to ask about your data security processes


Security for dealers and finance companies nowadays involves much more than just locking vehicles, the showroom and front door each night.

In fact, EFG Companies recently highlighted that data security is one of the largest areas of concern in 2018 for dealers, finance companies and their partners. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout, 1,579 data breaches occurred in 2017, representing a 44.7-percent increase year-over-year.

While retail automotive has been regulated under the Safeguards Rule of the 1999 Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, EFG Companies insisted that digital data was not considered an important area of focus until recent years.

This risk is driven in part by the rise of digital technology in the automotive market. From wirelessly connected cars to digital customer relationship management systems (CMS), data access points have increased exponentially.

A recent Frost & Sullivan report indicated that IT spending in the connected automotive market is projected to increase 17.3 percent from 2015 to 2025. However, the industry is just beginning to address how to protect private consumer information in a digital environment.

In the physical realm, it takes less than one minute and three pieces of information for a motivated thief to execute a security breach at a retail automotive dealership. In the digital realm, a computer hacker can gain access to payment processing software in seconds, grabbing data and exiting before the dealership is aware of the breach.

According to a 2017 study commissioned by IBM, the average cost of a single stolen data record is $141. The average total cost of a security breach was $3.62 million. The average probability of a company suffering a security breach within the next two years is 27.7 percent. 

“Machine learning and sophisticated hacking software will make data security an even more important component of the retail automotive sector,” said Maurice Hamilton, vice president, technology at EFG Companies.

“For example, we believe any company processing credit cards should complete PCI DSS compliance. Within three years, companies should also implement two-factor authentication. Granted, implementing data security technology is an expense. But, as research has shown, companies cannot afford a breach,” Hamilton continued.

Achieving data security

A study of more than 10,000 consumers by Gemalto revealed that 70 percent of consumers would stop doing business with a company if it suffered a data breach.

Furthermore, 69 percent of consumers believe that companies do not take consumer data security seriously.

EFG Companies recommends companies in the retail automotive buying chain utilize the acronym ADRIFT to ask the following questions as the first step in achieving data security.

1. Have I conducted a complete security risk assessment, including all access points and partners?

2. Does my written information security program document include procedures for each department that handles digital and physical consumer data?

3. Have I reviewed all reasonably foreseeable risks that could result in unauthorized disclosure or compromise of consumer data? Am I protecting customer information from collection to disposal?

4. Have I identified a designated person responsible for customer information security, with authority to implement the program?

5. How do I foresee manageable risks that could result in unauthorized disclosure of private consumer information? For example, am I overseeing partners that might have access to, or take possession of, customer information? Do my agreements with these partners require them to implement appropriate safeguards?

6. Does my company have sufficient training, oversight and procedures for securing private consumer data?

“From vulnerable photocopier hard drives to digital CRMs, we believe digital data security should be a key business objective for every retail automotive dealer, lender and partner,” said John Pappanastos, chief executive officer and president of EFG Companies.

“While important, simply locking a file cabinet or putting a screen protector on a monitor is not sufficient. We are calling on all participants in the retail automotive chain to lock down their data,” Pappanastos went on to say.

TagRail integrates with Market Scan and F&I Express to enhance mobile shopping

DUBLIN, Calif. - 

TagRail recently finalized the integration of Market Scan and F&I Express services into its new digital retail platform.

Now TagRail’s platform can provide shoppers a transactional-specific, penny-accurate vehicle finance and aftermarket product check-out and delivery experience from their living room to the showroom.

These integrations populate TagRail’s F&I tool with:

• VIN-, customer- and location-specific and penny-perfect financing options from more than 1,200 finance companies driven by the Market Scan data and calculation engine.

• Advanced up-funnel F&I aftermarket products and prices through F&I Express, featuring product and VIN-specific options from more than 150 vendors.

“Now TagRail gives shoppers transaction-specific auto finance, warranty and other aftermarket product prices, not estimates, so there’s no surprises when they come to the showroom to finalize the deal,” said David Luce, TagRail’s vice president of sales.

Market Scan’s ScanAPI can serve up finance company policies and rules, rates, residual values, all manufacturer rebates and incentives, and all participating dealer’s terms, all automatically figured into the finance or lease payment delivered through the TagRail platform.

“Using our penny-certain and extremely comprehensive data, TagRail has the most robust and accurate online finance tools available,” says Rusty West, Market Scan’s president and co-founder. “We track every parameter, policy and factor that can impact an automotive transaction.”

F&I Express offers auto retailers and their customers a robust aftermarket provider network. This integration can help dealers push aftermarket product-specific descriptions and prices up-funnel.

“We know that online shoppers who have educated themselves about the car-buying experience, including aftermarket products that can enhance and protect their investment, flow through the showroom delivery quicker — and tend to purchase more aftermarket products than if they waited until learning about them in the F&I office,” said Brian Reed, F&I Express president and chief executive officer.

For information and a demo, contact Luce at or (702) 493-3300.

Nominations now welcomed for The CEO Issue 2018

CARY, N.C. - 

It’s time again when SubPrime Auto Finance News engages with the industry for one of our most successful annual projects — "The CEO Issue."

In an ongoing effort to recognize the chief executive officers who are flourishing in today’s competitive marketplace, SubPrime Auto Finance News is asking the industry to nominate the CEOs of auto finance companies and their critical support service providers to be included in the March/April print edition that’s dubbed, “The CEO Issue.”

Between now and 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 20, nominations along with a high-resolution photograph and explanations as to why the CEO is successful can be sent to SubPrime Auto Finance News senior editor Nick Zulovich via email at

Here are some example questions to be answered to enhance nominations:

—What moves has the CEO made to place the company into position to be successful?

—How does the CEO cultivate a productive environment that inspires the organization at all levels?

—Why is this CEO an example of successful leader who lifts the value of not just the company, but also the entire industry?

To review the rundown of CEOs honored in last year’s issue, the digital version can be found here

SubPrime Auto Finance News publisher Bill Zadeits explained why this endeavor has become one of the highlights of the editorial calendar.

“As our industry continues to evolve, CEOs face many challenges to protect the prosperity of their organizations, not only in the present, but also several quarters and years down the road,” Zadeits said. “The auto finance industry is extremely fortunate to have some of the best leaders who handle those challenges quite well.

“Each year, our network of industry partners has raised its collective hand so we can showcase these impressive executives,” Zadeits continued. “We’re excited to learn more about each of these talented CEOs who will guarantee this $1 trillion economic pillar continues to flourish.”

Along with it being, “The CEO Issue,” the March/April edition of SubPrime Auto Finance News also will focus on both Vehicle Finance Conference hosted by the American Financial Services Association as well as the National Convention & Expo orchestrated by the National Automobile Dealers Association — signature industry events that run from March 20-25 in Las Vegas.

So if you have a longstanding relationship with or report to a CEO who should be included in “The CEO Issue,” send your nominations, images and responses to the sample questions listed above to SubPrime Auto Finance News editor Nick Zulovich at Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 20.

And be sure to get your copy of “The CEO Issue” delivered to your mailbox or grab one at the AFSA or NADA events. If you don’t already have one, get your free subscription by going to

AUL Corp. surpasses 2M contracts and adds to sales team

NAPA, Calif. - 

It took AUL Corp. 21 years to reach 1 million vehicle services contracts. According to a new release shared this week, the VSC provider doubled that figure seven years later.

AUL president and chief executive officer Jimmy Atkinson announced the company just surpassed 2 million contracts issued, making it one of the top independent vehicle service contract providers in the nation.

“We are thrilled for the accomplishment, but we are even more thankful for our amazing family of independent agents and dealers, without whose help this achievement would not be possible,” Atkinson said.

AUL was founded in 1990 by Luis Nieves and reached its first million policy milestone in 2011.

And with consumers holding onto their vehicles longer than ever before, and ever more complex and technologically advanced vehicles coming to market, the company insisted the need for vehicle service contracts has become increasingly important.

“When you combine the increasing need for VSC’s with AUL’s comprehensive policies and industry leading customer support staff, you have a business that is primed for growth,” Atkinson said.

Capitalizing on the firm’s success, AUL recently promoted Henry Paoli to national sales manager and brought in a fourth regional sales executive to ensure the firm’s industry leading customer service is maintained throughout all levels and regions.

According to Jason Garner, AUL’s senior vice president of sales and business development, “We have always strived to be a leader in customer service and to provide the best suite of policies in the industry. And the only way to deliver upon those high standards is to bring in the best people in the business.

“With 2017 having been the best performing year in AUL’s history, we look forward to serving our next million customers with our never ending dedication to hard work and integrity,” Garner went on to say.

Credit report research project results in ProMax’s latest dealer tool


Here’s another example of data and research leading directly to development of a solution aimed at smoothing out underwriting, which in turn helps finance companies book more paper and dealerships turn more metal.

Dealer Marketing Services, the makers of ProMax, recently released what the company dubbed Multi-Bureau Solution for its dealer customers.

ProMax explained the Multi-Bureau Solution is a multifaceted strategy for dealers that centers around pulling multiple credit reports for each customer in order to leverage the best credit score and tier into a better and more profitable deal.

The Multi-Bureau Solution comes as a result of a massive study conducted by ProMax over a six-month period in 2017. Using a sample of more than 700 franchised and independent dealerships nationwide, more than 650,000 showroom visitors with more than 1 million credit bureau reports pulled, and over 180,000 vehicle sales were analyzed.

“The analysis of this massive data set was conclusive and unmistakable,” ProMax founder and chief executive officer John Palmer said.

“Pulling multiple credit reports per customer increases both the number of sales and back-end profits,” he said. “It’s that simple. So, we designed an easy to implement solution incorporating everything the study showed us.”

Palmer explained that the study yielded two big innovations in the credit pulling process that are key to the Multi-Bureau Solution: a brand new multi-bureau credit report and major additions to ProMax’s Lender, Review, & Submit functionality.

The new bureau design improves both the look and effectiveness of traditional credit report displays, enabling dealers to compare multiple bureaus side-by-side and get all the information they need at a glance.

The updated Review & Submit screen makes it easier than ever for dealers to configure lenders for maximum effectiveness.

“The Multi-Bureau Solution doesn’t just draw on the landmark six-month study, but on ProMax’s 20-plus years of experience,” ProMax chief technology officer Darian Miller said.

“Credit and compliance have always been two of our greatest strengths. ProMax gives dealers the technology to compare and analyze credit reports and submit the best deals to lenders,” Miller continued.

ProMax pointed to studies that show up to 75 percent of vehicle buyers have credit scores that vary by more than 20 points across all three bureaus. The Multi-Bureau Solution can take advantage of this situation by always finding the best score and tier for the customer.

“Savvy F&I managers know that pulling more than one bureau can bump a prospect’s score and more importantly their tier,” ProMax chief operating officer Shane Born said.

“Even a bump of 20 points can mean the difference between closing the deal or losing the deal; 20 points could be the difference between a better deal or leaving gross profit on the table,” Born concluded. 

Automotive Credit Corp. partners with CoreLane to streamline application process

ORANGE, Calif. - 

CoreLane Technologies, a provider of innovative transactional connectivity solutions for dealers and finance companies, on Monday announced that Automotive Credit Corp. will make the innovative CreditLane platform available to its network of dealers.

Executives highlighted the CreditLane platform, which can integrate into the store’s dealer management system (DMS) and the finance company’s loan origination system (LOS), can significantly increase efficiencies and eliminate errors throughout the application and funding process.

Dealers receive real-time notifications as the contract status changes, and the final deal structure is pushed back into the dealer’s DMS.

CreditLane also can enable finance companies to grow their portfolios by providing them visibility to a broad array of dealers. The CreditLane Lender Directory can provide dealers with access to marketing information from lenders enabling them to easily identify, connect and submit applications to CreditLane lenders.

“At ACC, we strive to provide the best service to our dealers, and this has helped us become the fastest growing lender in the subprime auto finance industry” said Jaime Favela, senior enterprise business analyst at Automotive Credit Corp.

“Via the dealers’ DMS, CreditLane informs them of any important changes to the loan structure in real-time, so CreditLane dealers benefit from a higher close ratio and a faster funding track,” Favela continued. “These efficiency gains deliver lower operating costs and increased customer satisfaction, all while improving both gross profits and cashflow.

“Automotive Credit Corp. looks forward to delivering to CreditLane dealers the same industry leading service that we have built our business on over the past 26 years,” Favela went on to say.

Bill Medved, senior vice president of technology and operations of CoreLane, touched on what bringing Automotive Credit Corp. means.

“The CreditLane solution is designed to greatly increase the transactional efficiencies between dealers and lenders through an intuitive platform that is ‘One Click Simple,’” Medved said.

“We see our partnership with Automotive Credit Corporation as a mutually beneficial one as they bring over 25 years of experience and ideas that are already helping us to develop new product lines,” Medved added.

For more information on CoreLane and its portfolio of technology solutions for dealers and finance companies, visit

Credit unions in 14 states join GrooveCar platform in Q4


GrooveCar recently highlighted credit unions from 14 different states joined its online vehicle buying program during the fourth quarter.

GrooveCar, which provides credit union partners with continuous support services, market consulting, marketing collateral support to optimize communications with members and more, indicated that 17 credit unions joined during Q4, raising the 2017 total to 84.

The company added that it has forged more than 250 credit union partnerships since 2015.

“This has been an exceptional year for helping credit unions reach new levels in auto loan growth,” said Robert O’Hara, vice president of strategic alliances at GrooveCar.

“It’s always gratifying to deliver a service that meets the members’ desire to shop for all their vehicle needs online,” O’Hara continued.

“Credit unions are steeped in member resources, an auto resource is another way to serve the member with what they are looking for,” he went on say.

The GrooveCar platform helps credit unions capitalize on the desire of members to research and purchase a vehicle. The program works to engage members at all stages, especially as the process begins.

GrooveCar can help credit unions close the sales and shopping loop between the member, the credit union and the dealership. When the credit union is in the initial sales space with the member, GrooveCar believes there is a distinct advantage for the credit union to maintain their relevance from the beginning.

Joining the program during Q4 were:

Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union, serving 46,470 members with assets of $428 million
WesTex Community Credit Union, serving 11,003 members with assets of $80 million

Antioch Community Federal Credit Union, serving 1,572 members with assets of $27 million

Arsenal Credit Union, serving 25,548 members with assets of $227.2 million

Central Oklahoma Federal Credit Union, serving 2,839 members with assets of $29 million

Family Focus, serving 2,820 members with assets of $32 million

Georgia Power Valdosta Federal Credit Union, serving 3,579 members with assets of $24 million
Habersham Federal Credit Union, serving 3,724 members with assets of $20 million
Memorial Health Credit Union, serving 4,151 members with assets of $19 million

Hope Credit Union, serving 34,079 members with assets of $201 million

Lake Trust Credit Union, serving 180,000 members with assets of $1.8 billion

Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, serving 47,883 members with assets of $598 million

N.E.W. Credit Union, serving 10,120 members with assets of $87 million

Tobacco Valley Teachers Federal Credit Union, serving 3,873 members with assets of $47 million

University Credit Union, serving 17,212 members with assets of $206 million

Wauna Federal Credit Union, serving 24,222 members with assets of $232 million

West Metro Schools Credit Union, serving 2,500 members with assets of $28 million

With the number of vehicles on the road continuing to climb, vehicle ownership and financing remains a priority for a member at all stages of life. It’s important for credit unions to provide a resource that can serve members’ needs with the latest digital shopping tools.

“Our responsive technology delivers all the features the member enjoys when starting the process, just curious or full-on ready to buy,” O’Hara said. “We help keep the credit union connected at all stages with lead generation tools built into such features as; vehicle searches and saves, loan calculation, trade-in values, free CARFAX reports and other valuable interactive features."

More details are available at