Monique Williams lost her job as a receptionist in a Detroit apartment building last year during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now she is learning how hard it is to get back on track with her debt obligations.
Perhaps her toughest challenge, she says, has been the high-cost auto loan she took out in 2016 with Credit Acceptance Corp., the country’s largest company specializing in so-called subprime loans for borrowers with tarnished credit.
Williams said that when she and her husband were having trouble meeting their obligations last year, she asked Credit Acceptance whether she could pay a smaller amount temporarily or defer her payments. While the company offered some Covid-19-related accommodations — halting late fees and repossessions — deferrals were not an option.
“I have been paying for this car for four years — over $12,000 — and I couldn’t even get a deferment,” Williams said. The car died in December 2019, she said, but about $2,000 on the loan remains outstanding.
Cars are essential for people to get to jobs, grocery stores and vaccination centers, but the government has provided no federal assistance earmarked for auto loans during the pandemic. Stimulus checks helped borrowers stave off defaults, of course, and some states halted repossessions, but providing other accommodations, such as deferments, fell to the lenders themselves.
There is no direct assistance for car loans in part because, unlike student loans and mortgages, there is no…