By Bill Parry
Major World is in major trouble.
The car dealership with three locations on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City has been charged by the city with using deceptive and illegal practices targeting low-income and immigrant consumers, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The agency is seeking more than $2 million in customer restitutions and fines and revocation of the company’s three secondhand auto dealer licenses as well as the creation of a trust fund for any unidentified consumers who have been harmed.
“Our city’s working families, who often struggle to make ends meet, rely on their cars to accomplish life’s most basic tasks like going to work or going to school,” DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas said. “Buying that car is usually one of the largest purchases a family makes. It is outrageous that Major World, who claims to treat its customers like family, traps these hardworking New Yorkers into loans they can’t afford.”
The owners of Major World could not be reached for comment. The dealerships are located at 43-30 Northern Boulevard, 50-30 Northern Boulevard and 44-11 Northern Boulevard all Long Island City, a district represented by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
“I’m disgusted to hear that this dealership may have targeted and scammed unsuspecting immigrants who speak a first language other than English for bogus auto deals and high interest loans,” Van Bramer said. “Beyond being illegal, these actions are despicable and go against everything we represent as a welcoming, diverse and inclusice community.
DCA’s investigation found the company has a longstanding practice of luring unsuspecting consumers, particularly those with limited English proficiency, with promises of great deals on used cars and financing, regardless of credit history, income, or income-to-debt ratios. DCA has also found that Major World has been submitting false information on consumers’ credit applications, such as nature of employment, income levels, and monthly rent obligations, in addition to falsely inflating car values.
Major World engages in these practices to make car deals more attractive to financing companies, which then issue loans to consumers, who might not, in fact, be qualified to receive those loans, according to the DCA. In the end, consumers who have not been informed of their loans’ financing terms are left with overpriced and sometimes defective cars and are saddled with high-interest loans that they should never have received and may not be able to afford.
“Major World has also been marketing aggressively to attract immigrant customers and their deceptive and predatory acts are as much an affront on immigrant communities as the deplorable policies we are seeing from the new federal government,” Salas said. “Here in New York City, we are leveraging all the tools we have to curb this burgeoning lending problem that is adding to the national debt crisis.”
The DCA’s allegations will be heard in front of the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings at a date to be determined.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr