By John Yoswick
Mitchell International is the latest company to publicly state that it doesn’t share U.S. shop estimate data with CARFAX.
“Mitchell has never…shared any data with CARFAX, and we have no plans to and never will,” Jack Rozint, a senior vice president at Mitchell, said during this summer’s Collision Industry Conference (CIC), the first time the conference has been held as a “virtual meeting.” “Anything on a U.S. claim or repair that showed up on CARFAX, I can assure you, did not and will not come from Mitchell.”
For a number of years, shops have sporadically reported incidents of data from estimates or parts orders relative to a particular vehicle seemingly resulting in an entry on CARFAX or another history report for that vehicle. It’s a topic that’s been raised at CIC multiple times. CCC Information Services and Entegral (the Enterprise-owned software platform) last fall issued statements saying they do not share information with CARFAX. The CIC “Data Access, Privacy and Security Committee” says it has invited Audatex to make a similar presentation on the issue this fall.
But committee member Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), said even though a CARFAX representative has been at CIC when the concerns are raised, the company hasn’t “stepped up to the microphone in a public setting and addressed them.” The CIC committee has not asked CARFAX to address specific incidents, but SCRS has. CARFAX, Schulenburg said, has not provided information to SCRS to help the association “identify where the information is coming from” but rather just says “they protect their sources of information.”
Could insurers be the source providing the information?
“There have been test estimates sent through with no insurance company attached to it, a customer-pay,” committee chairman Dan Risley said of a number of tests he’s seen that have resulted in CARFAX entries. “It was only an estimate, not even a repair. No part [for the vehicle] was even physically ordered. So we have run our head into a wall running through the whole gamut of different tests to identify and isolate potential [sources]. We have not landed on one yet.”
“We’ve tried to find exactly how it’s getting there, and every time we think we know, we find out that we’re wrong, that it’s not the right path,” he said. “This is exceptionally concerning. It’s concerning not just for collision repairers or the consumers we serve. It should be concerning for every single company that is doing electronic commerce.”
The CIC committee has worked to address the CARFAX issue in a number of ways. Mitchell’s presentation last week, like CCC’s last fall, laid out steps that shops can take to change the EMS or BMS import and export directory file paths, essentially changing where estimate information is stored, perhaps thwarting a data pump’s access to it. Those presentations can be downloaded from the committee’s page on the CIC website (www.ciclink.com).
Committee chairman Dan Risley also urged shops to understand the agreements they have with all those they share data with, seeking out similar assurances to Mitchell’s and CCC’s that no estimate data is being used or shared in ways not intended by the shop.
The committee also has drafted a set of five “Golden Rules” for those entities accessing and using shop estimate data. Those five rules call on such companies to make it clear what data is being collected and used, to pledge to not misuse or allow others receiving the data to misuse it, and to give customers “the choice to determine what data is and isn’t shared.”
The committee welcomes feedback on the draft – also available in the committee’s July presentation on the CIC website – and envisions presenting the rules, once finalized, to all companies using industry data, and to recognize those companies who pledge to abide by them.
SBA suggests getting help
Also during the virtual CIC meeting, the Small Business Administration (SBA) said help is available for those preparing to seek forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Although there’s been a push for Congress to greatly simplify the process of seeking forgiveness of PPP loans of less than $150,000, it seems likely that at a minimum those receiving loans above that amount will still need to provide adequate documentation for how the funds were spent.
“We really encourage you to reach out to our SBA resource partners to assist with the forgiveness application,” Sonia Smith, a public information officer for the SBA, said during CIC. “Whether you’re using the EZ Loan Forgiveness Application or the long form, we can help in making sure it is all correct, making sure you have the right documentation. So when you submit it to your lender, you’ve got the package correct from the beginning.”
Smith said loan recipients can use the “Find local assistance” page on the SBA website (www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find) to locate SBA resource partners in their area.
An analysis conducted by the Society of Collison Repair Specialists suggests that nearly 20,000 body shops nationwide received a PPP loan. The data, released in July by the SBA and the Treasury Department, indicates that 2,500 independent repairers received loans of $150,000 or more.
An industry survey in June found that among 200 shops that had received a PPP loan, almost one-third (31 percent) had already applied for loan forgiveness. Not one of those shops reported that their application had been rejected, and in fact, nearly 84 percent said they had already received notification that repayment of the funds was not necessary.
But more than three in five of the shops receiving a PPP loan as of June had not yet applied for having repayment waived, though more than 90 percent of those said they intended to do so. •