CASSELBERRY, Fla. - Action 9 investigated how new loans get around Florida's title loan ban and can hit customers with sky high rates after a Casselberry man claims a car title loan took him for a costly ride.
Eddie Howard said his loan was packed with hidden fees and a triple digit interest rates.
Howard didn't have enough money to pay a medical bill. He owns his car outright, so he thought an InstaLoan store on Highway 17-92 in Longwood could be quick cash he could pay back soon.
Howard borrowed $924 last April as a title loan against his car and made monthly payments of $170. A year later, he said he discovered his loan balance was nearly $850.
He called InstaLoan to complain and said it wasn’t right.
Over the past year he paid back nearly $2,000, but less than $100 went towards the loan balance. His contract showed the interest rate was 65 percent.
Action 9 reviewed Howard’s loan documents and found InstaLoan charged him $86 plus another $35 dollars in insurance fees every month.
He was already covered by his own auto insurance and claims he kept telling the lender.
“My money's been going into his pocket all the time,” Howard said.
Instaloan, also called Title Max, is rated an “F” at the Better Business Bureau.
Action 9 checked with Florida's Department of Insurance Regulation and found 44 customers complained about needless insurance fees and sky high interest rates since 2014.
At the company's Longwood store, managers declined to discuss his case and said any comment would have to come from corporate headquarters.
In the past, the company said all its insurance fees were fully disclosed in the monthly agreements.
Last week, Howard said he ended this loan nightmare and paid off the loan in full and that cost him more than $800.
“Thank the Lord I'm through with them,” Howard said.
Instaloan is licensed as a consumer finance company, so it does not have to follow Florida's title loan law, but some consumer groups said it's selling title loans and regulators are giving it a free pass.
The company has not responded to Action 9’s questions.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.