Attorney General Cuomo Forces Delinquent Dealmaker Auto To Pay Off Trade Ins, Repair Customer Credit Scores

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (January 24, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement forcing an auto dealer to pay off loans on vehicles traded-in and to repair the credit reports of consumers who were adversely affected by the dealer’s delinquent payments.

“My office worked diligently to protect consumers from this dealer’s negligence and hold it accountable on it’s legal obligations,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “New Yorkers looking to purchase an automobile must be able to do so with the confidence that their dealer is acting responsibly and will handle its fiduciary responsibilities in a timely manner.”

DealMaker Auto Group, LLC, of Main Ave., Watertown sells new and used cars in Watertown, Syracuse, Theresa, Ogdensburg and Potsdam. The company is owned by P.J. Simao of Alexandria Bay and Mark Picarazzi of Watertown.

The Attorney General’s investigation determined that DealMaker systematically delayed in paying off vehicles accepted in trade for new cars throughout 2007. In some cases, payments had not been made for more than two months. The delinquencies impacted more than 150 consumers throughout the North Country and Central New York. In certain cases, the consumer’s credit ratings were adversely affected. Also, in some instances consumers who purchased traded in vehicles from DealMaker later found that the lien from the prior loan remained in effect. 

As part of the settlement, DealMaker and Simao agreed to pay off all delinquent loans, totaling nearly $2 million and to make restitution to consumers for any late charges assessed within 180 days. Furthermore, the dealership must correct any negative impact on consumer credit reports that were caused by their failure to pay on time. DealMaker will also pay $75,000 in fines and $2,000 in costs to the Attorney General’s office. The company must also use an independent monitor to oversee payment of all trade-in loans until January 24, 2010.

Consumers who did business with DealMaker and are concerned that their credit may be affected may contact the Attorney General’s Watertown Regional Office at 315-785-2444.

Attorney General Cuomo urges all consumers to be informed. A provision in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act allows consumers to receive free copies of their credit report annually. Reports can be obtained by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General-In Charge of the Watertown Regional Office John T. Sullivan with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Robert Vawter of the Albany Office’s Consumer Protection unit, Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Carol Lively and Investigator Chad Shelmidine, both of the Watertown Regional Office.

 

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