New Laws and Bills: A Fourth Factor that May be the Tipping Point
There’s another factor complicating the buy/sell equation for dealers: new government regulations – even for regulations that, originally, didn’t apply to auto dealerships. One such regulation is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which was originally put in place by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that banks and other financial institutions would have technology and procedures to protect their customers’ financial data from cyberattacks and breaches. The FTC, however, then extended this safeguards rule to non-bank financial institutions, including automobile dealerships.
The new rule took effect on January 10, 2022, with the FTC giving dealers up to one year to update processes and comply. Small dealerships, in particular, may feel unduly burdened by the rule, since many of those dealerships don’t have the technical people they need on staff – and the fines are stiff. Dealerships that fail to comply could see minimum fines of $100,000 per compliance breach…and the deadline to comply is now less than four months away.
The FTC-proposed Motor Vehicle Dealers Trade Regulation Rule adds another layer of challenges of dealerships of all sizes. Although the goal of the rule is to make the car-buying process more clear and competitive, the implications carry critical operational and compliance risks for dealers.
The proposed rule, however, may cause confusion for both the consumers it seeks to protect, and the dealers tasked with following it. For example, disclosures relating to advertising and cost that are required under the proposed rule overlap with, and at times are inconsistent with, the requirements of the Truth in Lending Act.
Furthermore, in today’s culture of transparency, dealers need to be extra vigilant. It’s not only the cost of the fines that’s at stake, but also a dealership’s reputation and the potential erosion of long-term customer loyalty for those who break the rules – intentionally or not.