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Four Great Legal Tips - by Tom Hudson

You can't let legal compliance slide when times are tough, but perhaps you can make your compliance dollars go farther. Think about taking some of the following steps:
1) You are required by federal privacy laws to have a Privacy Officer, and you are required by the new Red Flags Rule to have an "Overseer" of that program. Combine the two positions, since the general area that they cover are somewhat related, and designate one person as your dealership's compliance officer. Make sure your compliance officer has a basic understanding of the laws and regulations that impact a dealership's F&I practices. One relatively inexpensive way to do this is to send the compliance officer to a certification program, such as the one offered by the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals.

2) Have your compliance officer build a free (or nearly free) compliance library by reviewing the materials offered by the National Auto Dealers Association and by your state auto dealers association. You will find many very useful and well-done legal resources from these organizations at a fraction of the cost of having your own lawyer develop them.

3) Have your compliance officer review the Web sites of the Federal Trade Commission, your state's motor vehicle administration (or whatever they call the similar agency in your state), your state's consumer protection agencies and the site of your state's attorney general. These sites often contain very useful, and free, information that will have a direct bearing on your dealership's legal operations.

4) The sites mentioned above are not static; you need to check them periodically for new information. Your compliance officer can use the calendar program in Outlook (or some similar program) to provide a reminder to review these sites every 30 days or 60 days.
Before you take any of these steps, talk to your lawyer. Some dealership lawyers get very nervous when their clients start doing "do-it-yourself" lawyering. Rightly so, since do-it-yourself lawyering is right up there on the risk scale with do-it-yourself brain surgery. Your dealership lawyer will know your dealership and its personnel, and can help you build in some oversight of your compliance officer that will reduce the chances that an incorrect interpretation of a piece of legal material will get your dealership into mischief.



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