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Help ProPublica Investigate the World of Subprime Car Loans

More and more people are struggling to pay back loans on their used cars. Our journalists want to hear from the people who know the industry best.

A used car lot in San Pablo, California. Inflation, interest rates and high prices are at the root of consumers falling behind on auto loans, experts say. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

U.S. consumers are falling behind on their auto loans at historic rates. Experts blame inflation, soaring interest rates and high retail car prices. Our journalists want to learn more about this industry and understand the causes and consequences of the surge in delinquencies.

Many struggling car owners have “subprime” loans, in which people with poor credit scores agree to pay higher-than-normal interest rates to qualify. Lenders say the arrangement is meant to protect them in case the borrower can’t pay.

For investors, subprime loans can also represent an opportunity: High interest rates on the consumers’ end can yield great returns when loans are bundled together and sold as securities on Wall Street.

In recent years, regulators have sued lenders, accusing them of issuing loans they knew consumers would fail to pay back. State attorneys general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have also called out lenders, saying they are inflating the prices of cars and failing to clearly explain how much interest is due over the life of loans.

We think there are lots of stories to tell about this industry. To do the best possible journalism, we need to hear from people who know it well. Do you work for a subprime lender — in customer service, collections, loan funding, training or risk management? Are you paying off a subprime car loan? Are you a lawyer dealing with these issues in court? A regulator? An investor? Please use the form below to get in touch with us. We look forward to speaking with you.

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