AFSA SGA Moves Florida Auto-Fraud Reform Across Finish Line

AFSA members in Florida scored a big win thanks to a coalition including Sonya Deen of JM Family, AFSA’s State Government Affairs team, and numerous AFSA members. The law, which goes into effect on January 1st, 2020, will enable lienholders and borrowers to contain costs. 

Under existing law, a towing service or repair shop could hold a vehicle for at least 30 days and even claim another lien against the vehicle due to nonpayment for services. During this period, the service provider is required to notify all owners and lienholders of the amount due and may eventually hold a public auction for the sale of the vehicle following publication of a notice of sale. This process has been abused for many years through fraudulent liens on customer’s vehicles, and selling vehicles without properly notifying the lienholder. 

“I believe it was AFSA’s letter to key legislators that moved this legislation,” said Dennis Levine, a partner at Kelly Kronenberg Attorneys at Law. “I  thank AFSA for its leadership in helping to move the Florida Legislature to pass amendments to the storage, towing and repair lien sale statutes.” 
Consumers and the vehicle-finance industry are hit annually with tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent lien costs, and the new law will give creditors more options to detect and fight against fraudulent liens and to pursue damages when fraud occurs, keeping costs down for all consumers in the state.

The law was the culmination of three years of effort. JM Family was integral in drafting language for the legislation and tracking it. AFSA gathered data on fraud from its Florida members, reached out to the state’s banking regulators and coalitions in other affected industries, the Florida Attorney General’s office, and coordinated with local law enforcement to communicate fraud data and patterns. AFSA wrote letters in support of the bill in both chambers, while JM Family directly advocated for the legislation.