bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing," says the Iowa Attorney General.
"Auto salvage fraud is the greatest consumer concern facing used car
buyers, but this bill will provide less protection than many consumers
The letter -- which was drafted and circulated among the states by Miller's Consumer Protection Division -- calls auto salvage fraud "the greatest consumer problem facing American used car buyers." It cites estimates that the sale of rebuilt or salvaged motor vehicles as undamaged costs consumers and the industry $4 billion a year and raises serious safety concerns.
"When a car or truck is damaged by a wreck or a flood, and the damage is not disclosed, consumers unwittingly pay far more than the vehicle is worth," Miller said. "Even worse, they may be putting their families in danger."
The bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last year and could be debated at any time this spring. The bill would provide certain nationwide standards for titling and selling salvage vehicles.
"It is being sold as a pro-consumer bill," Miller said, "but this bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It will leave many consumers with less protection than they have now."
The Attorneys General volunteered to work with senators on alternatives to the bill, and they suggested using as a model the federal odometer enforcement scheme, which established minimum federal standards while allowing States to impose additional requirements.
The letter submitted by the State Attorneys General cites several reasons for concluding "the bill is not good for consumers":
The letter from the Attorneys General to the Senate said the bill, S.852, would not diminish auto title fraud in the U.S. "because it sets weak standards, attempts to limit the states' flexibility in dealing with salvage cars, and fails to provide sufficient remedies."
The Attorney Generals' letter noted that many national consumer groups oppose the bill, including the Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The National Association of Attorneys General has adopted a resolution regarding auto salvage legislation.
The letter was signed
by the Attorneys General of Puerto Rico and 32 states: AZ, AR, CT, DE,
FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK,
OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, WA, WV, and WI. It was also signed by the
Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.