Though they operate thousands of branches across the country, the nation’s three biggest auto title lenders want Virginia officials to treat them as private citizens and afford them the same right to keep their financial records out of public view.
The three lenders — TitleMax of Virginia Inc.; Anderson Financial Services LLC, doing business as Loan Max; and Fast Auto Loans Inc. — have filed legal arguments asking Virginia officials to prevent financial reports they submitted to the state from being disclosed to the Center for Public Integrity.
The annual reports include detailed sales figures, volume of loans, interest rates, the number of cars repossessed when borrowers default, and how often the lenders get into trouble with state and federal regulators. TitleMax, Loan Max and Fast Auto Loans submitted heavily redacted reports last month at the request of the commission before its hearing.
In defending the redacted reports, the companies argued in their latest filings that the reports constitute “personal financial information” that should be exempt from disclosure, just as it would be for any person.
“Fast Auto’s personal financial information should be treated as confidential just as an individual’s personal financial information would be treated,” the company wrote in its filing submitted Friday.
At a Jan. 27 hearing in Richmond, the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which oversees financial institutions in the state, called for more legal argument. At issue is whether the reports should be made public, as the commission’s own staff recommended last year, or if the information should be withheld from the public. Much of the debate at the hearing centered on whether the lenders should enjoy the same privacy rights for financial records as a private individual would under the law.