The law requiring credit bureaus to offer consumers free credit report freezes can help prevent fraud, but customers who don't lift the freezes before entering a dealership to buy a vehicle could face longer transaction times.
Experts urge dealerships that work with these customers to have a process in place and educational resources on their websites to expedite transactions.
The law, which took effect in September, lets customers restrict access to their credit reports for free. Before the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- charged varying fees for the service, said Ritch Wheeler, vice president of training at F&I product and training company American Financial & Automotive Services Inc.
Experts say the number of customers who have frozen their reports varies regionally. Some dealerships work with many such customers, but for other stores, the situation rarely comes up.
Justin Gasman, financial service director at McCaddon Cadillac-Buick-GMC in Boulder, Colo., said he deals mainly with prime and superprime customers, of which between 15 and 20 percent have frozen their reports.