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Tweet brings attention to coming Toyota lending discrimination settlement deadline

Toyota agreed to pay nearly $22 million as part of the 2016 settlement. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Toyota agreed to pay nearly $22 million as part of the 2016 settlement. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(RNN) – A deadline is nearing for people to claim their part of a $21.9 million settlement between Toyota’s financing arm and black, Asian and Pacific Islander customers who were charged higher interest rates on auto loans than white customers.

The settlement was reached in early 2016 between Toyota’s lending operation, Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, and the Department of Justice and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The carmaker did not have to send instructions on entering into the settlement to affected parties until Dec. 29, 2017, however.

May 8 is the buyer response deadline.

ALSO SEE: If you believe you are eligible for the settlement, you will need to complete this form and email it to info@tmccsettlement.com

A tweet from Friday alerted thousands to the settlement. A Twitter user, @blackkyari, got nearly 31,000 retweets and almost 50,000 likes for her post.

“Secure ALL bags, summer is around the corner! I’m laughing but I’m serious,” she wrote in a subsequent tweet.

As part of the settlement, Toyota did not have to admit guilt, but agreed to “voluntarily” repay eligible buyers.

“No consumer should be forced to pay more money for a loan because of their race or national origin," a U.S. attorney, Eileen M. Decker, said in a statement at the time of the settlement’s announcement.

People eligible for a cut of the settlement include black, Asian and Pacific Islander car buyers who got a loan from Toyota Motor Credit Corporation between Jan. 1, 2011 and Aug. 1, 2016.

The company was not found to have directly discriminated against customers. But Toyota dealerships, which can adjust rates at their discretion, were found to increase interest rates for people of color in those particular groups more than for white customers.

“The company will also change its pricing and compensation system to substantially reduce dealer discretion and accompanying financial incentives to mark up interest rates,” Toyota wrote in its settlement notice.

Among the many replies to @blackkyari’s tweet, some users recalled being targeted by the policy.

“Omg yes, I remember they straight lied about my credit score, and I was like that doesn’t sound right. But I signed anyways. How do I take action on this?” wrote @BunieGOTCHAAA.

@geminibarboza responded, “They did the same thing to my husband, he was so confused because we knew his credit was great. Told him he had too many credit cards at once.”

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