We’ve all been there a time or two. You hop in your vehicle to start your morning commute to work or to drop the kids off at school and low and behold, the car won’t start and you’re all of the sudden facing a mechanical issue. Well, maybe that’s the problem… or maybe you simply missed last month’s car payment and the lender has remotely disabled your car.
According to a report from The New York Times, it’s a scenario that’s one missed payment away for millions of Americans.
Auto loans made to those with subprime credit scores, at or below 640, have spiked over the past few years primarily because lenders offer up said loans with ridiculous interest rates attached as a reward for them taking the risk on a sketchy borrower. But for some, the high interest rate isn’t enough.
Now, at many subprime car lots across the country, vehicles are being equipped with something referred to as a starter interrupt device. It’s basically a remote kill switch with a GPS tracking device that the lender can use to remotely disable the vehicle should the borrower miss a payment.
The device has been installed on roughly two million cars financed to subprime borrowers. Disabling a car is as easy as clicking a mouse button or tapping on a smartphone. Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Federal Credit Union in Covington, La, said he has even disabled a car while shopping at Wal-Mart.
Once a vehicle has been disabled, the customer must get current on their payment in order to have the ban lifted.
And while lenders try to disable vehicles when it appears they are parked at home or at work, that’s not always the case. Some report having their vehicles disabled at stoplights while one woman said hers was disabled as she was driving on the highway.
Do you agree with the use of such technology? On one hand, the customer shouldn’t be tempted to miss a payment but then again, should the lender have the right to disable their car if they are just a few days late?