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I have an auto loan with a car company that after looking at all possible amortizations, doesn't match what my payment should be. I'm talking with 40% interest rates, adjustable interest rates, shortened terms, etc; none of it matches my payments.

After speaking with the representative, he refused to give me a copy of my contract, asserting that it's confidential and refuses to provide me with a complete loan amortization schedule for my car. I'm willing to provide any information I need to validate that the car is mine.

The contract and balance being mine, can they refuse this contract and balance history if I have legitimate questions regarding refinancing and my account?

Edit: The car company financed the car directly.

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    How do you know how much is remaining if you don't have the terms of the loan? For all you know you've been making interest-only payments. This whole thing sounds very shady, which make me think that the dealer would rather have the car back than for you to pay them off. – D Stanley Feb 27 '17 at 19:36
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    Nobody can "refuse" to let you pay off a loan early. All they can do is add pre-payment penalties to discourage it. – Daniel Anderson Feb 27 '17 at 19:52
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    Where is your copy of the paperwork? – mhoran_psprep Feb 27 '17 at 22:46
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    @Anoplexian If nothing else, let this episode of your life be the lesson to always keep track of your financial documents. If you had a copy of the contract in hand you would have everything you need to answer any questions about how things are supposed to be calculated, and whether or not it was being done correctly. Personally I recommend getting a fireproof safe for holding onto this type of thing. – Rozwel Feb 27 '17 at 23:41
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    Well, we often help people understand the details of their situation better with details like that, but of course if you're uncomfortable sharing that, it's entirely up to you. – Joe Feb 28 '17 at 19:24
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The comments are getting too much, but to verify that you are not insane, you are being bullied. It sounds like this is a sub-prime loan, of which you are wisely trying to get out of. It also sounds like they are doing everything in their power to prevent you from doing so. For them you are a very profitable customer.

This might take some legwork for you, but depending on how bad they are violating the law they might be willing to forgive the loan. What I am trying to say, it might be very worth your while!

Your first step will be looking for any free resources at your disposal:

  • Ask the question on Law Stack Exchange, including where to turn for free resources (but just like this site, it's not a substitute for professional advice)
  • Research companies that take on credit companies
  • Research the company in question, have people had similar problems? What did they do?
  • Do any lawyers specialize dealing with collection companies in your town? Will they take your case on a contingency basis?
  • Do you have any friends or friends of parents who are lawyers or even law school students? This might include people you go to church with or do other activities with.

Just be cautious as many "credit representation" type business are only offering loan consolidation. That is not what you need.

Fight those bastards!

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    It does sound like a rather nasty case of bullying - put up a fight! – dougal 5.0.0 Feb 28 '17 at 4:59
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    Just a note, if you don't already have a go-to lawyer, call your local BAR. They typically have a referral program, and will help match you with a lawyer/practice that has experience with cases like yours. Better than shooting blind from a phone book or something if you don't have a recommended/preferred lawyer already. – SnakeDoc Feb 28 '17 at 15:56
  • You will need to phrase the question carefully on law.se. If you say "how do I get out of this loan", it will be closed as "asking for legal advice" which is forbidden. You will need to phrase it as "hypothetically speaking, if one had a loan like this, how would one go about getting it written off?" – Martin Bonner Mar 1 '17 at 11:33
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You won't be able to sell the car with a lien outstanding on it, and whoever the lender is, they're almost certain to have a lien on the car. You would have to pay the car off first and obtain a clear title, then you could sell it.

When you took out the loan, did you not receive a copy of the finance contract? I can't imagine you would have taken on a loan without signing paperwork and receiving your own copy at the time.

If the company you're dealing with is the lender, they are obligated by law to furnish you with a copy of the finance contract (all part of "truth in lending" laws) upon request. It sounds to me like they know they're charging you an illegally high (called "usury") interest rate, and if you have a copy of the contract then you would have proof of it. They'll do everything they can to prevent you from obtaining it, unless you have some help.

I would start by filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, because if they want to keep their reputation intact then they'll have to respond to your complaint.

I would also contact the state consumer protection bureau (and/or the attorney general's office) in your state and ask them to look into the matter, and I would see if there are any local consumer watchdogs (local television stations are a good source for this) who can contact the lender on your behalf. Knowing they have so many people looking into this could bring enough pressure for them to give you what you're asking for and be more cooperative with you.

As has been pointed out, keep a good, detailed written record of all your contacts with the lender and, as also pointed out, start limiting your contacts to written letters (certified, return receipt requested) so that you have documentation of your efforts.

Companies like this succeed only because they prey on the fact many people either don't know their rights or are too intimidated to assert them. Don't let these guys bully you, and don't take "no" for an answer until you get what you're after.

Another option might be to talk to a credit union or a bank (if you have decent credit) about taking out a loan with them to pay off the car so you can get this finance company out of your life.

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    Note the BBB has no enforcement powers, so if these guys are scummy enough to break the law as OP describes, they may not care about their BBB rating, or it may already be terrible. – Kevin Feb 27 '17 at 21:37
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    You're right that the BBB has no enforcement powers, and that perhaps this lender doesn't care about their BBB rating, but having the BBB give you a negative rating because you won't adequately respond to a consumer complaint is often enough for many businesses to become more cooperative. It doesn't hurt to try, it's free, and it just may work. This is all about bringing pressure to bear on the lender, and you do it from as many fronts as possible. – Daniel Anderson Feb 27 '17 at 21:56
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    If they are indeed legally obliged to provide a copy of the contract under these laws, would the OP (or their lawyer) not perhaps be well served to send them a "letter before action" (I think "Demand Letter" in AmE) demanding said contract or they will take legal action? Particularly if they are scummy. – Vality Feb 27 '17 at 22:03
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    The BBB is largely impotent, lawyers are not. Get a demand letter on a lawyer's letterhead. – quid Feb 27 '17 at 22:49
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    I understand that people don't think much of the BBB, but they were very helpful for me with a local auto repair shop just a few weeks ago. Some companies do value their reputation, and a letter from the BBB can sometimes be enough to spur them to act. – Daniel Anderson Feb 28 '17 at 2:28
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Phone conversations are useless if the company is uncooperative, you must take it into the written word so it can be documented. Sent them certified letters and keep copies of everything you send and any written responses from the company. This is how you will get actual action.

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The advice above is generally good, but the one catch I haven't seen addressed is which specific laws apply. You said that you are in Arkansas, but the dealer is in Texas. This means that the laws of at least two different states are in play, possibly three if the contract contains a clause stating that disputes will be handled in a certain jurisdiction, and you are going to have to do some research to figure out what actually applies.

One thing that may significantly impact this issue is whether you were in TX or AR when you signed the contracts. If you borrowed the money in TX, and the lender is in TX, then it is almost certain that the laws of Texas will govern. However, if you were living in AR at the time you acquired the loan, particularly if you were in AR when you signed the papers, you have a decent case for claiming that the laws of Arkansas govern. I don't know enough about either state to know if one is more favorable to the consumer than the other, but it is a question you really want to have answered.

That said, I would be shocked if any state did not have provisions requiring the lender to provide a copy of the terms and a detailed statement of the account and transaction history upon request. Spend some time on the web site of the Texas attorney general and/or legislator (because that is where the lender is, they are more likely to respect Texas law) to see if you can track down any specific laws or codes that you can reference. You might also look into the federal consumer protection laws, though I can't think of one off hand that would apply in the scenario you have described.

Then work on putting together a letter asking them to provide a copy of the contract and a full history of the account. As others noted, make sure you send it certified/return receipt, or better yet use a private carrier such as fedex, and check the box about requiring a signature. Above all you need to get the dialog transferred to a written form. I can not stress this point enough. Everything you tell them or ask for from here out needs to be done in a written format. If they call you about anything, tell them you want to see their issue/offer in writing before you will consider it.

You do not necessarily need a lawyer to do any of this, but you do need to know the applicable laws. Do the research to know what your legal standing is. Involve a lawyer if you feel you need to, but I have successfully battled several large utility companies and collection agencies into behaving without needing one.

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    There is almost certainly an arbitration clause in the contract, but the OP's point here is that the lender won't provide him with a copy of that contract, and that's the real issue. – Daniel Anderson Feb 28 '17 at 0:22
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    @DanielAnderson Agree on the real issue being that the lender isn't providing the requested documentation. I would not be so sure about an arbitration clause in this case. Nearly every large company has taken to including them, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, the smaller players have not. – Rozwel Feb 28 '17 at 16:20
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No, they cannot refuse to provide you with the current balance or a balance history. The other answers point you to resources that are available to help you put pressure on the dealership. The bottom line is that you now know that you have the right to the details and to audit their recording of the transactions.

You should now use that information and demand a better response in writing. If they have to give you a response in writing, they can't deny the answer they gave in a court of law later on. They understand this, and they will take you more seriously if you send a letter. Make sure to keep copies of the letter and send it with certified delivery.

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UCC § 9-210. REQUEST FOR ACCOUNTING; REQUEST REGARDING LIST OF COLLATERAL OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT. Look that up. Yes they suppose to provide some type of break down.

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