Wisconsin auto title loan paychecks are on the way, officials say

By Gitte Laasby of the Sentinel Diary

UPDATE: Checks have been issued as part of the Wisconsin Auto Title Loans Inc. settlement. If you were expecting payment but did not receive one, please see this story for a possible explanation and guidance on what to do. you have to do if you have any questions.

Nearly six months after Wisconsin officials announced a $2.75 million settlement with Wisconsin Auto Title Loans Inc., checks are finally about to go out to about 23,000 aggrieved consumers. That will happen later this month, officials say.

Wisconsin Auto Title Loans has been accused of tricking people into paying for membership in an insurance-like service on top of their loans.

Over the past two months, several consumers have contacted the public investigator to request an update to the settlement because the phone number and website consumers were previously directed to for information no longer works.

When I introduced myself to state officials, they told me that the phone number and website were only meant to be temporary. They also provided these answers to consumer FAQs:

  • When does my check arrive?
    The settlement administrator will begin issuing payments and releasing liens this month.
    “Checks are being prepared and should be mailed in late March,” Wisconsin Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck told me over email.
    (Officials previously said the payments would arrive in February.)
  • How much will my check be?
    The information we provided earlier still applies: payments will be close to 125% of the fees consumers paid to be members of the Continental Car Club, plus interest. Membership fees ranged from $30 to $150 depending on the loan amount taken out.
    Note: Interest rates charged by Wisconsin auto title loans were extremely high, but they were not the subject of this lawsuit.
    Consumers were eligible for reimbursement from Wisconsin Auto Title Loans if they took out a loan between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2010 and repaid an amount equal to or greater than the money they received on the loan.
  • Why did it take so long?
    Officials had to wait for the appeal period in the case to expire. It also took the state and the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee a long time to reach a settlement with the company.
  • Who can I contact if I have questions?
    At this point, consumers simply have to wait for their check. However, those who need more information can contact the attorney representing the plaintiffs with any questions. His name is Peter Koneazny and he works for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. He can be reached at (414) 727-5333.

There’s more information about the settlement in this story from the January Public Investigator. You can find more information about what Wisconsin Auto Title Loans did wrong and why it took so long to reach this settlement in this September story on the initial settlement.

For more consumer stories, follow the Public Investigator on Twitter @GitteLaasbyMJS or like his facebook page.

About Gitte Laasby

Gitte Laasby is the public investigator for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She investigates government issues and consumer affairs.