LANSING, Mich. (6/17/14)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and representatives from four affiliated credit unions testified before the Michigan State House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday to advocate for legislation to prevent vehicle title fraud.
Currently, vehicle titles in Michigan are in paper form and held by the borrower. MCUL is supporting Senate bills 915-918 to require that vehicle titles with liens be held electronically, and that transactions related to lien placement and release be conducted electronically.
Testimony provided real-world examples of how scammers have altered paper documents to fraudulently show that a loan has been paid off. David Richmond, a representative from the office of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office, said that the auto loan process would not be affected. Rather, the legislation would change how titles are issued. The secretary, along with MCUL, has spearheaded the initiative.
"The only difference is, there would be no piece of paper issued to you that would be utilized in order to transfer ownership in the vehicle," said Richmond.
Among the representatives from Michigan credit unions who testified were:
- Doug Seaney, executive vice president, lending, Bay Winds FCU, Charlevoix, with $175 million in assets;
- Bryan Caputo, vice president of lending, First General CU, Muskegon, with $66 million in assets;
- Chris Mangeno, business lending and special assets manager, Cornerstone Community Financial CU, Auburn Hills, with $209 million in assets; and
- Stephen Dedene, manager, compliance and regulatory affairs, Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, with $831 million in assets.
If enacted, the legislation would be effective by October 2015, and would provide heightened criminal penalties in the interim. The legislation appears on track for further action when the Legislature reconvenes in the fall, the league said.