Some car buyers who took out subprime loans for their vehicles are having them rigged with a device that can disable the car at any time, and in any place, with the push of a button on a phone or computer, The New York Times reports. The practice, meant to curb late payments, has come under fire as an invasion of privacy. Beyond those concerns, cars have reportedly been disabled in traffic, in strange neighborhoods, and with little to no warning. Some have complained that being tracked all the time put their safety at risk. The lenders involved say they're simply taking measures to protect themselves, having offered risky loans to people with poor credit, the Times reports.
Some lenders only use the devices, which can be installed on most cars with electronic ignition systems, after 30 days of nonpayment and attempts to reach the owner. But others will disable cars just days after a missed payment as a reminder — something that opponents of the devices say amounts to "electronic repossession" and should be made illegal. Some people being tracked have taken to disabling the devices themselves — an illegal act, but one they deem necessary.