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Subprime auto sales on the rise

Apr 19, 2012 Philip Burgess

For many Americans, owning a car has become a necessity. Automobiles can mean the difference between being gainfully employed or joining others on the unemployment line, especially in areas without public transportation. So it should come as no surprise that people who have poor credit ratings are beginning to approach alternative finance institutions to fund a car purchase. Equifax's March National Consumer Credit Trends Report found that consumers with bad credit make up 46 percent of the auto loan market. The report noted though lending is increasing, lenders and consumers should be aware that both interest rates and down payments are not expected to decrease. "The evidence of increased lending to subprime consumers demonstrates banks' ongoing efforts to grow lending by providing credit opportunities to more consumers," Equifax chief economist Amy Crews Cutts explained. According to a Chicago Tribune interview with TransUnion's Ezra Becker, in 2011, payments on auto loans overtook mortgage and credit card bills in terms of importance to consumers from all financial backgrounds in every state. Becker told the source possible reasons for a shift included needing a vehicle to get to work, an important factor after many went jobless in the recession. He also noted the risk that if a consumer went into auto debt, their car may be taken away due to non-payment.