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No Car Payment? Cut The Engine

car_payment.jpg

Car payment device
Rick Smith/AP

A borrower enters a code into a starter interrupt device installed in a car in Limerick, Pa. Now the Nevada Legislature is looking at a bill to shut down your car if you miss a car payment

Some state lawmakers are toying with this idea: if you are 10 days late on your car payment, your lender could shut down your car by remote control.

A second late payment would result in a shut down after just five days.

Existing law gives someone 30 days to make a payment.

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has testified against the bill, which is still alive in the Legislature. Consumer rights attorney Sophia Medina has represented two clients whose vehicles were turned off as they were driving.

"One was in the middle of the day and she was in traffic and she had a hard time getting to the side of the road without causing an accident," Medina said. 

She said what happened to her client highlights a problem with the bill. If a driver's car is shut off in traffic and a crash results, liability for the company that installed the equipment is limited to $1,000. 

Manufacturers say the devices only stop an car engine from turning on, which means that is not supposed to happen.  

The bill doesn't just shorten the time allowed for missing a payment it also changes Nevada's one-document rule.

"It basically says all the terms of your contract have to be in one document and that document is prescribed by the state of the Nevada by the financial institution division," Medina said.   

Support comes from

Medina told KNPR's State of Nevada the devices tend to be installed in the cars of people who have had past credit troubles, but there is nothing in the bill that would stop them from being installed in all cars. 

Critics are also concerned about privacy with the devices which they describe as GPS units that track users all the time. 

Guests

Sophia Medina, attorney

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