Consumer Federation of California Opposes Phony Used Car “Safety” Bill

The Consumer Federation of California announced its opposition today to Senate Bill 990 (Vargas), which would allow the use of reports from commercial data providers instead of from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to satisfy current consumer protection laws regarding the sale of used cars. 

The legislation – being falsely sold by proponents as improving consumer safety ‘ would gut last year’s Assembly Bill 1215 (Blumenfield), California’s landmark, first-in-the-nation protections provided to the state’s used car buyers. 

AB 1215 (Blumenfield) prohibits the sale of used cars unless the dealer first obtains a vehicle history report from the NMVTIS. The bill had wide support from consumer groups; auto dealers and their trade associations, which represent both new and used car dealers; international law enforcement officials; non-profits that represent law enforcement officials from the United States, Canada, and Mexico; as well as the former head of the FBI’s Auto Theft Task Force. 

‘SB 990 would undermine consumer protection in order to enhance the profits of a single out-of-state company,’ said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. ‘Carfax would undoubtedly benefit from this legislation, but it would be categorically unsafe for consumers.’

The bill’s language allows the use of any commercial database, with no given standards for reputability or accuracy of data, and no repercussions for providing false or inaccurate information.

Under the legislation, commercial entities that offer false ‘guarantees’ will be competing with the federal database that was established by the U.S. Department of Justice and operated by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Because private data providers are not subject to regulation like the NMVTIS is, this bill opens the door for inaccurate information to be provided to consumers with impunity. 

Since 1960, the Consumer Federation of California has been a powerful voice for consumer rights.