More than 150,000 Ford customers may qualify for a $100 restitution check from Ford Credit, following a settlement between Ford and 38 state Attorneys General, led by Illinois' Lisa Madigan and Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.

In 1997, Ford Credit came under the scrutiny of investigators from the Illinois and Florida Attorneys General offices for its leasing practices, in connection with its Red Carpet lease plan. In this scheme, the dealerships allegedly packed extra fees into the early termination of vehicle leases when the lessee also was purchasing the vehicle at the time of the lease termination.

Investigators discovered that in some cases when the lessee bought a vehicle upon early termination, consumers were charged more than the actual balance owed on the lease.

The consumers caught in this scheme often werent aware that any fraud was being perpetrated against them, even after it had occurred, Madigan said. This settlement addresses fraudulent practices, eliminates future confusion and provides the appropriate redress for affected consumers, Madigan said.

The investigation revealed that at times dealers would discharge the lease obligation to Ford Credit, but keep the extra amount charged to consumers. Consumers were usually unaware of this scheme because the dealers not Ford Credit provide the payoff figure to the consumer.

As a result of this investigation, Ford has changed its Red Carpet lease contract language to clearly explain consumers rights when terminating a vehicle lease early and to include a toll-free number in the lease so that consumers can easily learn the correct payoff amount.

Consumers in the 38 states who participated in the Red Carpet lease plan, terminated the lease early and purchased the vehicle between 1991 and present may be eligible to receive a $100 restitution check from Ford Credit.

Customers of Ford Credit between 1991 and 1994 will receive direct notice of the settlement. Other consumers who also may be eligible to participate in the settlement should call 1-800-221-3312 or go online to