Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry has announced a significant settlement with a Delaware-based title loan company that engaged in unlawful lending practices, charging borrowers exorbitant interest rates that exceeded 200% annually. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) reached an agreement with Auto Equity Loans of DE, LLC (“AEL”) that will see the company refund $705,000 in illegal interest charges to affected consumers. Additionally, AEL will be required to cancel all remaining car title loans to Pennsylvanians, resulting in debt cancellation exceeding $1 million.
Notably, AEL has ceased its operations as a car title loan business, signaling a decisive end to its predatory lending practices. This recent settlement follows previous agreements with other car title lenders, including Dominion Management of Delaware (operating as CashPoint) and Approved Financial. Across all three cases, the OAG has secured over $2.2 million in consumer restitution and more than $4.3 million in debt cancellation for Pennsylvania residents who were victims of out-of-state car title lenders.
Attorney General Henry expressed her strong stance against predatory lenders, emphasizing that geographical location does not exempt companies from the reach of Pennsylvania law when they exploit consumers within the state. This settlement provides relief to the victims of AEL’s fraudulent activities and serves as a warning to other wrongdoers.
Title loans, which involve borrowers using their vehicle titles as collateral for high-cost installment loans, are particularly problematic due to their exorbitant interest rates. Such loans often attract vulnerable individuals facing financial hardships, such as unemployment or significant medical expenses. In Pennsylvania, usury and racketeering laws effectively prohibit title loans, as the interest rates charged by title lenders commonly exceed the state’s maximum annual interest limit of 27%.
Under the terms of the settlement, AEL and all related entities are permanently barred from making vehicle title loans to Pennsylvania residents. The resolution of this case follows years of litigation against AEL, as the company attempted to impede the investigation but ultimately faced the consequences.
Consumers who suspect they may have been victims of similar practices by other car title lenders are encouraged to file complaints online or contact the Office of Attorney General directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-441-2555. The OAG remains committed to protecting Pennsylvania residents from unscrupulous lending practices and urges individuals to come forward with any relevant information.