Lorelei Salas (DCA Headshots)
This week, Deb Gordon’s guest was New York City DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas, who along with Mayor Bill de Blasio and several council members, recently introduced new legislation to combat the prevalence of predatory sales and lending in the used car industry and protect consumers.
The Commissioner’s office, which regulates and licenses the industry, received a high number of consumer complaints in recent years regarding the issue, especially from minorities and immigrants.
“We have about 775 used car dealers that are licensed by the city right now,” said Salas. “It’s also one of the industries of which we’ve received the most complaints.”
“Unfortunately what we’ve seen is a lot of these predatory practices are focusing and concentrating on communities of color, immigrant communities, a lot of limited English proficient individuals — people who need to save the money the most,” added Salas.
The Department of Consumer Affairs is making a concerted effort to increase awareness about this issue and advocate on behalf of consumers, many of whom are now struggling with debt after becoming victims of unfair and illegal ruses from dealerships.
“We found a pattern…certain dealers were including false information in their applications for the consumers, said Salas.
“People who came in thinking that they were going to try to buy a car for $10,000, somehow were able to qualify for a much more expensive car, because the dealers were inflating the income… and reducing the amount of expenses that they had to incur every month, so It could become a more attractive prospect for the bank or financing institution.”
Commissioner Salas provided detailed information about the proposed legislation, which among other things, will require dealerships to post and provide each consumer with a bill of rights, provide notices in the language of the contract negotiation, and offer a two-day cancellation policy. In addition, Ms. Salas provided tips on how consumers can best protect themselves from deceptive practices.
For more information, or if you or someone you know have been a victim of predatory sales tactics, call 311 or visit www.nyc.dca.gov.