CHARLESTON – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania automobile leasing company he says claimed it could improve customer credit without being qualified to do so.
Morrisey also claims Auto Trakk LLC repossessed leased vehicles without written notice.
“Unscrupulous business practices cannot be tolerated in West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “As Attorney General, I will always work to vigorously enforce our consumer protection laws.”
The lawsuit claims Auto Trakk leased cars to those with subprime credit through a weekly payment option and installed starter interrupt devices in the vehicles.
The device allowed Auto Trakk to prevent a car from starting if payment was not received. Each week, upon payment, lessees would receive a code that allowed the vehicle to operate for another week.
The complaint states Auto Trakk would flip the “kill switch” on vehicles just days after a previous week’s missed payment.
The company did this without written warning or an additional opportunity to pay.
Such conduct contradicts state law, which mandates any business issue a written notice and then wait 10 days before taking action.
Auto Trakk supplied two 24-hour emergency codes for use if a weekly payment was not made, however, those codes did not always last a full day and were used as coercion to receive payment, according to the suit.
Auto Trakk also stands accused of advertising its credit repair services without proper bonding by or registration with the Secretary of State’s Office since 2006.
The lawsuit asks for an immediate injunction to block Auto Trakk from doing business or credit service in West Virginia and prohibit installation of its starter interrupt devices.
It also seeks repayment of all money paid by the state’s consumers and a $5,000 fine for each violation of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The case was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court on Aug. 10.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 16-C-1211