Credit on Wheels: The Law and Business of Auto Title Lending

72 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2011 Last revised: 4 Dec 2013

See all articles by Jim Hawkins

Jim Hawkins

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: October 31, 2011


Despite the fact they are used by millions of Americans, auto title loans have received little attention in the legal literature about consumer credit. Friends and foes of title lending make confident statements about their net welfare effects, but we still lack empirical data on many of the central policy questions that title lending raises.

This Article offers new evidence about the title lending transaction, paying special attention to the risks borrowers face when they use their vehicles as collateral for the loan. I gathered this evidence by obtaining new reports from state regulators about the title lending industry, examining public disclosure statements by title lenders, interviewing title lenders, and surveying a small group of title lending customers.

Additionally, this Article organizes the different legal responses to title lending, creating a taxonomy of regulatory approaches. Based on the new data uncovered by my research, I offer tentative evaluations of these diverse regulatory strategies.

Keywords: auto title lending, fringe banking, consumer credit, bankruptcy, financial distress, alternative financial service provider

Suggested Citation

Hawkins, Jim, Credit on Wheels: The Law and Business of Auto Title Lending (October 31, 2011). Washington and Lee Law Review, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Jim Hawkins (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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