Auto-financer settles with DOJ on SCRA allegations
On September 29, the DOJ announced a settlement with a California-based auto-financing company resolving allegations that the company failed to refund up-front lease payments to servicemembers who lawfully terminated their motor vehicle leases early, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). According to the press release, the SCRA “permits servicemembers to terminate motor vehicle leases early without penalty after entering military service or receiving qualifying military orders for a permanent change of station or to deploy.” When servicemembers end their motor vehicle leases early under the SCRA, the lessor must refund all lease payments made in advance under the SCRA. The settlement, filed by the DOJ in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleged that the company provided cash refunds for capitalized cost reduction (CCR) by servicemembers, but failed “to refund, on a pro rata basis, lease amounts—in the form of [CCR] from vehicle trade-in value—paid in advance by servicemembers who lawfully terminated their motor vehicle leases upon receipt of qualifying military orders.”
Among other things, the settlement requires the company to compensate 714 servicemembers, pay $64,715 to the U.S. Treasury, adopt new policies, and implement new training requirements consistent with the SCRA. The settlement also notes that the company fully cooperated with the investigation.