The New York Times has written a damming report on the practice of auto loans in the US, highlighting the increasing trend to fit cars with devices that will render them inoperable if the borrower can't keep up with the payments.
Known as a starter interrupt device, it's a custom fitted chip that once applied allows the lender to remotely disable the persons car if they haven't kept up with their payments.
Written by Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg the report suggests that these devices are often fitted to cars belonging to borrowers known in the US as 'subprime'. These customers often have low credit scores and are at a much higher risk of being unable to fulfill their monthly payments.
While the technology isn't new its application is, however that hasn't stopped over 2 million cars being fitted with the devices.
The problem, the NY Times argues, is that there's very little regulation in place. A lender in theory has complete control over the borrower's vehicle and thanks to developments in cloud technology a lender is now able to access the car from his/her smartphone and disable it there and then.
Another key problem with the technology is the privacy element. Along with the ability to disable a car these smart chips constantly share the location of the vehicle giving lenders the ability to see where any of these cars are at any one time.
You can read the full report here.