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Borrowing with auto title loan puts vehicle at risk

Taking out an auto title loan, in which

Taking out an auto title loan, in which you put up your car as collateral in exchange for cash, is risky business, experts say. The federal consumer watchdog reports 1 in 5 such borrowers forfeit cars. Photo Credit: iStock

When you’re short on cash and looking for quick fix, forget about an auto title loan.

Taking out an auto title loan, in which you put up your car as collateral in exchange for cash, is risky business. According to new research from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one in five borrowers who took out a single-payment auto title loan had the car or truck seized by the lender for failing to repay their debt.

“This product is easy to get into and hard to get out of. While this is marketed as a short-term fix, on average the borrower renews the loan eight times,” explains Delvin Davis, senior research analyst for the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, North Carolina. With typical interest rates of 300 percent, “you’re going to pay more in fees that you originally borrowed.”

The industry reaps the majority of its profits from people renewing loans, says Liana Molina, director of community engagement for the California Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, “Car thieves do less harm — at least they don’t take half your paycheck before they steal your car.”

Davis says Americans pay nearly $4 billion in fees for car title loans annually. Where are better options? “Friends, family, your church,” Davis says. “Even a high interest credit card is better, compared to 300 percent.”

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