Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Another WTF! Did you know this?
Buying a Car a Little Harder Now
Terror Check Required for Financing
If you're in the market for a car, be prepared to prove you are not a terrorist.
The federal government's Red Flags Rule mandates that auto dealers, banks, credit unions and other "creditors" and "financial institutions" take additional steps to prevent identity theft and fraud, beginning Jan. 1. Included in the list of so-called creditors is your family doctor.
Among those steps is determining whether a person applying for financing - or even paying cash for a car - appears on any government watch lists of known or suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations.
As a result, consumers hoping to finance a new or used car, a home or even a major appliance will be required to supply personal information - such as their Social Security number and birth date, as well as the answers to five questions designed to confirm a customer is who they say they are - to the business at the time of the sale. Those questions could include anything from previous addresses and area codes to the names of other members of the consumer's household.
Thomas Garage Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep in St. Clairsville uses a software called Wise Scan ID to simplify the search of public records and the 475-page Office of Foreign Assets Control "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons" list, commonly referred to as the terror watch list.
Anyone can view the "SDN List" online at www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/sdn/.
Sparing the dealership the time it takes to check the list manually, the software generates a report verifying the person in question is still living and has provided accurate personal information - and that they are not listed among suspected terrorists.
Ray Smith, finance manager for Thomas Garage Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, said the Thomas dealership has been using the system for about two years, as the Red Flags Rule was introduced in September 2008. The Federal Trade Commission, however, has delayed enforcement of the rule several times , most recently at the request of some members of Congress who hope to resolve any questions regarding which entities must comply. Currently, enforcement is slated to begin Jan. 1.
Smith noted, though, that it already is possible for a business to face civil penalties or make restitution to the bank that supplied the loan if it does not perform its due diligence in ensuring a customer is not committing identity theft. After Jan. 1, he said, fines and jail time could result for anyone who commits the federal offense of approving such a sale without performing the required checks on the applicant.
And for car dealers, there can be consequences if an automobile is sold to a person on the Office of Foreign Assets Control's list of suspected terrorists, regardless of the price of the vehicle or whether they seek financing.