In a Nutshell: People need cars, but the last thing a typical consumer wants to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon is buy one. Fortunately, digital transformation is positively impacting automotive sales and reducing the time customers spend in dealerships. 700Credit is at the forefront of that transformation. 700Credit provides more than 20,000 clients with credit reports, prequalification and soft-pull services, compliance solutions, and identity verification and fraud detection services. Its client base encompasses automotive, RV, powersports, and marine dealerships, and a host of third-party providers, including credit unions and other lenders. 700Credit works behind the scenes with dealers to reduce hassles associated with big vehicle purchases.
Automobile dealers are in the business of selling cars, not putting customers through the wringer. It’s in the dealer’s interest to solve consumer pain points associated with car buying, especially when digital transformation removes the need to perform routine tasks like credit checks and ID verifications at the dealership.
It’s even better if dealers can accomplish those things while performing compliance due diligence more consistently and thoroughly.
That’s the 700Credit solution. 700Credit is a financial products provider to more than 20,000 automotive, RV, powersports, and marine dealerships. It also partners with dozens of third-party providers, including credit unions and others supplying lending and purchasing services to those dealers.
700Credit works with the three major US credit bureaus to provide credit report reselling services to dealers and partners. It offers a compliance dashboard to facilitate adherence to Fair Credit Reporting Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act regulations.
It provides soft-pull services to prescreen and prequalify prospects at home and in the dealership without impacting the customer’s credit score. And it offers identity verification and fraud detection services, including tools to combat synthetic ID fraud and authenticate driver’s licenses remotely and in-store.
700Credit solutions integrate nearly universally with dealer and customer relationship management systems, desking solutions, and digital retailing products. And 700Credit always stays abreast of industry and regulatory change, so customers don’t have to.
Managing Director Ken Hill said 700Credit helps dealerships manage customer relationship nuts and bolts more efficiently.
“Dealerships do a good job of making customers feel as comfortable as possible,” Hill said. “But consumers don’t want to spend two or three hours on Saturday afternoon in a dealership, with all that waiting and waiting — they’re looking to do more of that process online.”
Helping Dealers Understand Their Customers
The first step in gaining customer understanding at the dealership is accessing the customer’s credit file. 700Credit’s credit report solutions provide valuable credit file information, including open trade lines, identification information, and FICO® scores.
Access via HTML and enhanced formats ensures seamless integration with dealer systems. A dashboard displays a graphical view of each bureau’s score, an auto-summary provides a snapshot optimized for sales floor needs, and the 700Credit Summary analyzes the most significant factors in the consumer’s file.
“Our integrations are our strength,” Hill said. “As dealerships migrate workflows, we can migrate with them.”
On the consumer side, soft-pull technology integrates into digital retailing solutions, adding a prequalification option to dealership websites as a call to action. Soft-pull solutions don’t require a Social Security number or date of birth and don’t impact the customer’s credit profile.
Consumer-initiated solutions include QuickQualify, which delivers a FICO score and full soft-pull prequalification credit report directly to the dealership, acting as a lead-generation tool. QuickScore provides the same information to the consumer’s device.
Dealer-initiated solutions include QuickScreen and QuickMobile, which integrate with any partner solutions at the dealership to access the customer’s credit profile, including FICO score and available revolving credit, before or during the dealmaking process.
The tools also boost service lane and conquest marketing opportunities by putting the right information in front of customers and sales personnel at the right time. For example, rather than put $1,000 into a repair, a consumer may elect on the spot to put that money in a new car.
700Credit’s soft-pull products also assist consumers by allowing them to shop from dealership to dealership, Hill said.
“If they’re visiting an online automotive marketplace and see multiple cars they’re interested in, they can get accurate payments while eliminating that finance office stress,” he said.
Verification and Fraud Detection Automate Compliance
700Credit expanded its product offerings as regulators responded to the rise of identity theft and fraud in the early 2000s. At the instigation of lenders, the Federal Trade Commission instituted the Red Flags Rule in 2009.
The rule put a new level of responsibility on dealers that 700Credit identity theft and fraud detection solutions alleviated. 700Credit has stayed ahead of the curve as identity theft has grown more sophisticated.
The Red Flags Rule requires dealerships and other businesses to implement written prevention protocols to detect warning signs of identity theft.
For example, part of the red flags law requires dealers to flag consumer statements of identity theft because the person claiming the identity in the dealership could be a fraudster attempting to purchase a car illegitimately. The dealer needs to have that info readily available to keep the vehicle safely in the dealership.
700Credit’s flagship identity verification product appends a summary table warning to a credit report when information in the report may be questionable. Warning messages surface high-risk applicants, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and addresses. All dealers have to do is refuse the deal and report the infraction.
“We give them a fully automated and auditable solution,” Hill said. “And it works — it has definitely cut down on identity theft occurring in dealerships.”
So-called synthetic fraud is on another level and describes a scenario where the fraudster builds a false identity from scratch to circumvent flags. It’s much more difficult to detect without sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.
700Credit’s synthetic ID solution incorporates those tools and encompasses a breadth of data sources to prevent criminals from hiding behind false identities.
“As dealership challenges have changed, we’ve adapted to those challenges and developed solutions to assist,” Hill said.
Reducing Customer Uncertainty at the Point of Purchase
During a 700Credit webinar, representatives from the three credit bureaus said the best way to fight identity theft and synthetic fraud was to prioritize ID verification.
“It all starts with validating that driver’s license,” Hill said.
700Credit has apps for that. Through a partnership with eLend Solutions, it offers a physical driver’s license authentication solution that incorporates its prescreen and prequalification platforms, and its suite of identity verification tools to deliver results quickly and accurately.
Its mobile solution does the same thing. It can work in a dealership but is particularly applicable in online purchasing scenarios.
According to Hill, the percentage of folks completing auto and big vehicle purchases entirely online is still relatively small — below 10%. But with 700Credit tools at their disposal, more consumers and dealers are moving credit checks and ID verifications outside stores and decoupling them from the direct sales process.
700Credit tools streamline consumer interactions with dealerships no matter where the purchase occurs. Hill said dealers offering modernized purchasing paths stand a better chance of gaining share over dealers that don’t innovate their approach.
Dealers offering those conveniences help reduce uncertainty around big vehicle purchasing, including those stereotypical high-pressure negotiation scenarios that almost all consumers prefer to avoid.
An all-too-common situation occurs when the consumer walks into a dealership with the perception that the payment will be $350 a month and walks out with a $400 obligation. Credit scores and vehicle loan-to-value numbers are legitimate causes of those discrepancies, but price is always negotiable, and the consumer is likely to feel exploited.
“I’ll tell you what I like to do — I like to be prequalified, and I like an accurate payment,” Hill said. “And I want those loan documents prepared before I come into the store.”