Idahoans Can Apply For Refunds From Vehicle Service Contract Seller
Boise, Idaho (KMVT-TV) - Idaho consumers who bought vehicle service contracts from Missouri-based US Fidelis may receive refunds, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced. Wasden and 11 other state attorneys general reached an agreement with US Fidelis, a vehicle service contract dealer that routinely misled consumers before shutting down and filing for bankruptcy in 2010. The agreement, which has been approved by the bankruptcy court, provides $13 million in consumer restitution as well as injunctive relief. This settlement, along with a prior settlement with the service contract obligor Warrantech, creates a $14.1 million Consumer Restitution Fund.
“Idaho consumers received little to no vehicle coverage from US Fidelis’s so-called bumper-to-bumper service contracts,” Wasden said. “These consumers now have the opportunity to recover a portion of the money they lost as a result of this company’s deceptive conduct.”
The settlement resolves the Attorney General’s lawsuit against US Fidelis, which also did business as National Auto Warranty Services and Dealer Services, for violations of Idaho’s consumer protection and telemarketing laws. The lawsuit alleged that US Fidelis’ solicitations misled consumers into believing their auto warranties had expired or were soon to expire and that they were being contacted by their auto manufacturer or other entity affiliated with their original vehicle warranty. Many consumers who thought they were purchasing a warranty with “bumper-to-bumper” coverage later found the contracts full of exemptions.
To apply for a refund, consumers must file a claim form with the bankruptcy court before October 5, 2012. The bankruptcy court mailed claim forms to approximately 2,722 eligible Idaho consumers in early June. As of July 1, only six Idaho consumers had submitted claim forms. If a consumer misplaced or did not receive the form, a new form can be printed from the US Fidelis bankruptcy website at www.usfbankruptcy.com.
Not everyone who applies for a refund will receive money. Depending on the number of claims filed nationwide, a consumer may receive a payment from the restitution fund if:
1. The consumer requested, but did not receive, a refund from US Fidelis;
2. The consumer had an unauthorized deduction from his or her bank account by US Fidelis;
3. The consumer received the incorrect refund amount from US Fidelis;
4. The consumer made a timely request for, but did not receive, a money-back-guarantee refund from US Fidelis;
5. US Fidelis made a misrepresentation to the consumer in writing or on the telephone; or
6. The consumer received unwanted automated telemarketing calls (“robocalls”).
Consumers can find detailed information about the consumer restitution fund at www.usfbankruptcy.com or by calling the US Fidelis Consumer Hotline at (877) 691-8477.
In November 2010, Wasden settled Idaho’s claims against US Fidelis’s owners, Darain and Corey Atkinson. That settlement required the Atkinsons to forfeit most of their assets to the bankruptcy court and prohibited them from doing business in Idaho.
The Attorney General’s Office continues to receive consumer complaints about vehicle service contract sellers who engage in unlawful telephone solicitations and deceptive advertising. Before a telemarketer solicits in Idaho, the seller must register with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Telemarketers must comply with Idaho’s autodialer law. Those selling vehicle service contracts also must comply with the Idaho Motor Vehicle Service Contract Act.