A ruling issued Thursday by the Virginia State Corporation Commission will allow Virginia officials to keep annual business reports filed by auto-title loan companies under wraps, marking a major victory for the oft-criticized lenders.
The commission, which oversees financial institutions in the commonwealth, said it’s not clear under state law if corporations enjoy the same rights as people when it comes to the protection of financial information.
Three giant title lenders — TitleMax of Virginia Inc.; Anderson Financial Services LLC, doing business as Loan Max; and Fast Auto Loans Inc. — had asked Virginia officials to prevent the annual reports from being disclosed to the Center for Public Integrity.
The 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 versions of reports earlier this year at the request of the commission. In its brief at the time, TitleMax argued the reports contain “trade secrets,” whose release could cause it “irreparable damage.”