Topeka A Lawrence attorney who has represented soldiers who have alleged they were cheated by a Kansas automobile dealer said Friday there needs to be increased oversight of dealers who assist in loan financing.
“If we want to protect the public, particularly our young soldiers, then we need to do something to make sure they see all the paperwork and that there is some oversight,” said Michael Shultz of the law firm of Kaup & Shultz.
The issue has gained attention in recent days as the Senate approved a massive overhaul of lending and borrowing regulations.
A contentious debate on the bill dealt with a proposal by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to exempt auto dealers from oversight from the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Brownback, who is running for governor, said the auto dealers should be excluded from the agency’s rules because they already are subject to state and federal consumer laws.
President Obama, military leaders and consumer groups have opposed the Brownback amendment, saying that soldiers are particularly targeted by car loan scams because of their financial inexperience and they are frequently on the move, often deployed overseas.
Shultz, who represented in a lawsuit seven soldiers who purchased vehicles from Dick Edwards Auto Plaza in Junction City, which caters to soldiers at Fort Riley, said increased oversight is needed.
The issue between the soldiers and the dealership was resolved out of court, Shultz said, adding that under the terms of the agreement he can’t talk about how it was resolved. During the lawsuit, the dealership denied wrongdoing.
In researching this issue, and not speaking about his particular case, Shultz said he found there are many scams directed at military personnel.
One of those is where a dealer inflates the worth of a car loan by plugging in extra features that don’t exist on the vehicle. The buyer is unaware of this and ends up paying for those phantom features.
The Defense Department said many soldiers report having been taken advantage of by unscrupulous loan practices.
On Thursday, Brownback withdrew his amendment. The New York Times reported that it was a tactical move by Republicans designed to deny Democrats from passing a measure that would have placed extra restrictions on banks to engage in high-risk, profit-making trades.
A spokeswoman for Brownback, however, said he withdrew his amendment because he wanted “a clean vote on the auto dealership amendment.” The auto dealership exclusion is in the House version of the financial market overhaul. Both versions of the bill will be negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee.