Keith Whann is a leading national authority on dealer, compliance, F&I, technology and consumer protection issues facing the automobile industry. Keith’s automotive and legal career has spanned over 32 years from a beginning as an Assistant Ohio Attorney General, founder of the law firm Whann & Associates and an industry voice on legislative and regulatory issues on Capitol Hill, thru today, as founder and CEO of The Whann Group providing compliance, training and technology solutions to the industry.
Keith has had hundreds of articles published in trade journals across the country and his blog posts discussing compliance, dealer and consumer protection issues related to car buying and auto industry related topics are favorites of dealers and consumers alike. Keith has made presentations and conducted training seminars on a wide variety of topics affecting dealers, consumers, the car buying and F&I processes, compliance and automotive industry as a whole. Keith has also spoken at conventions and meetings for over 50 national and state motor vehicle industry related trade associations and regulatory agencies.
Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio
B.A., Business Management and Economics, 1981
Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Cleveland, Ohio, J.D., 1984
US District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, 1985
1987 - Present
Private Practice of Law
Was actively engaged in the private practice of law from 1987 to 2011, founding the law firm Whann & Associates located in Columbus, Ohio in 1991. The focus of my practice was the representation of motor vehicle dealers, national and state motor vehicle trade associations and other industry related businesses and service providers. I provided general counsel, litigation and legislative related services throughout the United States and in Washington, D.C., developed various training, educational and legal compliance programs for the industry and worked with Federal and State regulatory agencies. During this time I also served as Outside General Counsel for the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (17 years) and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (18 years). From 2012 to the present I have provided legal and business consulting services in the motor vehicle industry, with an emphasis on Legal & Regulatory Compliance issues and the impact of technology on motor vehicle dealers, the sales and F&I processes and the industry as a whole.
2011 – Present
Whann Technology Group
The Whann Technology Group develops software products for dealers, auctions and consumers in the wholesale and retail automotive sectors. Our products have been used throughout North America and in South America and Europe. Our emphasis today is on mobile technology, analytics, dealership and F&I compliance tools and online marketplaces for the retail and wholesale automotive sectors.
Outside General Counsel
Over The Edge Technology
Manage all legal, regulatory and compliance issues related to the structure and sale of F&I products, menus and services by Master General Agencies, Agents, Dealers, Program Administrators, Lenders and Insurance Carriers in the motor vehicle industry that impact technology solutions offered by the company.
Co-Owner and CEO
Columbus Fair Auto Auction
After working with and representing Columbus Fair Auto Auction (an independent wholesale auction with 500 employees) on a wide variety of business and legal matters since 1987, in 2005 I became a co-owner and its Chief Executive Officer. During this time we transitioned the business model from a traditional brick and mortar business to one having a significant online presence.
1984 - 1987
Assistant Attorney General
Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office handling primarily motor vehicle industry related cases, with an emphasis on odometer rollback, title fraud and other motor vehicle related violations of law, along with being responsible for the enforcement of various statutes which regulated the day-to-day sales activities and operations of entities engaging in consumer transactions. During my tenure as an Assistant Attorney General, I was a member of the National Odometer Enforcement Association and served on its Legislative Committee, and was a member of the fifteen-state Midwest Task Force on Odometer Alterations, serving a term as Chairman of the Organization in 1986.
SPECIAL MOTOR VEHICLE INDUSTRY RELATED EXPERIENCE:
A featured speaker on legal, business, regulatory compliance, consumer protection, technology and other topics related to the motor vehicle industry at conventions and meetings for over 50 International, National and State industry related trade associations and regulatory agencies. I have authored hundreds of articles on the above topics that have been published in blogs, trade publications and magazines throughout the country.
Created various Motor Vehicle Dealership Review, Audit and Training Programs to increase motor vehicle dealership profitability and customer satisfaction while reducing legal and regulatory exposure by making dealership sales, F&I and other processes, systems and paperwork more compliant, transparent and consumer friendly.
Worked on legislative and regulatory matters with Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice, Customs, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Conducted several tutorial meetings and provided background information to the Federal Trade Commission in connection with the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Implementation. Topics covered included: The retail and wholesale automobile industry; Motor vehicle dealership operations; Documents in a car deal; Differences between new and used, purchase and lease and traditional, subprime and buy here pay here transactions; F & I practices and Consumer disclosures.
Was the only industry representative to be asked to participate in two sessions at each of the three 2011 FTC Roundtables entitled “The Road Ahead: Selling And Financing Vehicles” as they gathered information from across the country in preparation for the development and formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection at a hearing titled, “Consumer Protection in the Used and Subprime Car Market” in March of 2009.
Met with the Special Assistant to the President
for Justice and Regulatory Policy to discuss issues related to the impact and
effectiveness of the Administration’s actions related to the Federal TARP and
Cash For Clunkers programs.
Worked with the IRS to resolve various taxation issues pertaining to subprime lending and related finance companies, including drafting of revisions to the IRS Audit Technique Guide for the used motor vehicle industry released in 2002 and amended in 2005.
Worked with the FTC in producing the 1998 Edition of the FTC Publication “A Dealer’s Guide to the Used Car Rule” and conducted seminars with the FTC on the Rule and related warranty and sales issues. I also worked with the FTC to obtain a Letter of Opinion dated December 31, 2002 regarding anti-trust tying issues in Limited Warranties and to update the FTC’s Dealer’s Guide to the Used Car Rule, published in June, 2004.
Was involved in the drafting process with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to revise Articles 2, 2A and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, Uniform Consumer Leases Acts and the Uniform Certificate of Title Law Project.
Co-developed and conducted a training seminar on Salvage and Title Fraud for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the Inaugural Meeting of the Federal Task Force formed pursuant to the Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992.
A few of the industry related regulatory issues on which I have commented include:
FCC: Junk Fax Prevention Act
FRB: Truth in Lending Proposed Rules
FRB: Anti-Tying Restrictions of Bank Holding Company Act Sec 106 Amendments of 1970
FRB: Regulation V
FTC: Magnuson Moss Warranty Tie-In Issue
FTC: Alternative Forms of Privacy Notices
FTC Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act Privacy Safeguards Rule
FTC: FACT Act Disposal Rule
FTC: FACT Act Affiliate Marketing Rule
FTC: FACT Act Scores Study
FTC: FACT Act Prescreen Rule
FTC: Used Car Rule; Paperwork Comment
FTC: Red Flags & Address Discrepancies under the FACT of 2003
FTC: Implementation of Sec 311 risk-based pricing provisions of the FACT Act of 2003
FTC: Used Car Rule modifications relating to format, design & content of the Buyer’s Guide
FTC: Red Flag Regs implementing FACT Act Sec 315 & amendments to Sec 605 of the FCR
IRS: Proposed Revenue Procedure on Cash Method of Accounting
IRS: Cancellation of Indebtedness
NCCUSL: Draft of Uniform Certificate of title Act
NHTSA’s Tire Safety Information Rule
Treasury: Customer ID Program Recordkeeping Requirements for Financial Institutions
USA Patriot Act: money laundering risks posed by businesses engaged in selling vehicles
I have spoken on legal, regulatory, compliance and F&I issues pertaining to the motor vehicle industry at conventions and/or meetings for or with the following groups:
Federal Trade Commission
Internal Revenue Service
International Association of Auto-Theft Investigators
Midwest Task Force On Odometer Alterations
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Odometer & Title Fraud Enforcement Association
National and International Groups and Industry Trade Associations
American Car Rental Association
Association of American Motor Vehicle Administrators
Automotive Resource Network Annual Automotive Conference
Canadian Motor Vehicle Dealers Association
Consumer Bankers Association
European Networking Group Vehicle Remarketing Conference
National Alliance of Buy Here-Pay Here Dealers
National Auto Auction Association
National Automotive Finance Association
National Independent Automobile Dealers Association
National Remarketing Conference
National Special Finance & Buy Here-Pay Here Conference
National Vehicle Leasing Association - Various 20 Group Meetings and Programs
Franchised & Independent Dealer Trade Associations From The Following States
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington & West Virginia
Some of the topics covered in the presentations include:
Advertising in the Motor Vehicle Industry
Collection, Repossession and Bankruptcy Issues in a Motor Vehicle Transaction
Complying with the Federal Privacy Laws and U.S. Patriot Act
Complying with the FTC Used Car Rule
Complying with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act Privacy Safeguards Rule
Complying with the Red Flag Regulations
Dealership Technology and its Impact on Compliance
Generating Profit Not Legal Exposure in the F&I Department
Handling Consumer Complaints and Dealing with Regulatory Agencies
How to Attract Additional Lenders to Your Dealership
How to Protect Your Dealership from Legal & Regulatory Exposure
How to Protect Your Dealership’s F & I Department from Legal & Regulatory Exposure
How to Sell a Car and Keep it Sold
Issues Related to Motor Vehicle Service Transactions
Legal and Business Issues Affecting Dealership F&I Departments
Legal and Business Issues Affecting Dealership Operations
Legal and Regulatory Issues Impacting a Motor Vehicle Transaction
Marketing and Selling Vehicles to the Hispanic Marketplace
Marketing Vehicles on the Internet: Constructing a Website is the Easy Part
Minimizing Dealership Losses from Repossession, Bankruptcy and Paperwork Issues
Paperwork Issues in a Motor Vehicle Transaction
Social Media and the Internet: It’s Effect on Your Dealership
Subprime Lending in the Motor Vehicle Industry
Strategies for Effectively Defending Consumer Lawsuits
Taxation and Capitalization Issues Facing the Buy Here-Pay Here Industry
Techniques Used by Consumer Lawyers to Break a Car Deal
The Dealership F&I Department and the CFPB
The Dealership F&I Department: Creating Profit, Not Legal Exposure
The Dealership F&I Department: Products, Paper, Promises & Profit
The Evolution of Online Remarketing
The Five Most Significant Legal, Business and Regulatory Issues Facing Dealers Today
The Internet, E-Commerce and Your Dealership
The Titling and Registration of Motor Vehicles
Turning the Compliance Fear Factor into a Competitive Advantage