UPDATE: The state has updated its website with frequently asked questions about the American Car Center closure and what customers should and should not do (they do not recommend stopping your payments.) See their information here.

The state Motor Vehicle Commission sent a memo with this statement:

It is the Commission’s understanding that all loans made through American Car Center’s Subsidiary, American Finance, are in the process of being purchased by Westlake Financial Services. Once the purchase of the book of business is complete, Westlake Financial Services will reach out to each individual purchaser to advise of next steps.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis used auto dealer closed suddenly, leaving customers who still owe car notes wondering what’s next.

American Car Center, which has two Memphis locations, closed Feb. 24, resulting in 288 employees losing jobs, according to information sent to the state Department of Labor.

Tuesday, the building off Covington Pike was empty and locked, and customers outside were confused.

“I don’t know who to make the payments to, so I don’t want to just send my payments and have it be like a scam,” said one woman who didn’t want to be identified.

She says when she initially bought her Ford Fusion similar to this one in 2021, she had a bad feeling and felt preyed upon.

“They like, just didn’t really care. They knew that you needed a car because of your credit,” the woman said. “It’s like they took advantage of me because I didn’t have no credit.”

American Car Center put directions on its website on where to send payments: www.amfinancial.com or pay by phone by calling (877) 720-4477.

If that doesn’t work, Cindy Ettingoff, the CEO and general counsel for Memphis Area Legal Services, says American Car Center customers need to look at their contract and find the finance entity — that’s who needs to get the payments — and get in contact with that company.

“Somebody holds that debt, and if the debt’s not paid, the vehicle in all likelihood, the vehicle will be repossessed. These are not free vehicles the debt didn’t go away because the business went away,” Ettinghoff said. “The contract should be between the purchaser and whatever the finance entity is. So that means that even though American Car Center has closed, the obligation to pay continues, but you’ve got to be sure you’re paying to the right place.”

You should ask them how they would like you to make payments to them.

Some questions you should ask are: “Do I continue to use the same portal? Do I use something different? Am I going to receive something in the mail?  Can you confirm something to me via email or somebody send me a letter?”

The state suggest also filing complaints with them. You can do that here.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance says Tennessee auto dealers are required to have a surety bond to obtain a license. Complainants may be eligible to make a claim against that bond with the bond company. The bond company investigates each claim on its merit and determines eligibility. The limits of liability of the dealer bond is $50,000.