What is Usury and What are the Penalties?
Usury is whenever the legal limit of charging an interest rate is exceeded. This illegal practice is often found in money lending contracts and can be unreasonably high. In Florida, the maximum interest rate you can charge is 18 percent for loans that are up to $500,000 and 25 percent on loans that are greater than that amount. The penalties in Florida for charging high interest rates can be severe. An interest rate above 25 percent and up to 45 percent are criminally usurious misdemeanors, while a rate above 45 percent is punishable as a third-degree felony. It is important to see if there are any loopholes in your contract that could potentially raise the interest rate higher than expected.
What is the Maximum Interest Rate for Automobiles in Florida?
Even though the 18 percent maximum interest rate is a good measure for almost all loans, motor vehicles have their own usury laws. In short, the maximum interest rate depends on a few different factors such as the car’s model, year, and the client’s credit rating. Let us say for example you are buying a car on a loan that is 3 years old. The loan for a vehicle of this age cannot exceed a rate of “$15 per $100 a year. This difference is based on the fact that auto loan laws use a “add-on interest” method for calculating the amounts in dollars, and not as a percentage.
How do I Fight Usurious Interest Rates?
There is in fact a practice among some dealerships to push buyers into loans from lenders owned by or affiliated with the manufacturer of the vehicle you are purchasing. These loans often come with usurious rates of interest and if you find yourself in this situation, you deserve to be compensated. There is an opportunity to fight but it is important that you find legal representation, so you have a strong case against your lenders.