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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB Issues Consent Order against San Diego-Based Student Debt Loan Relief Company

CFPB Debt Settlement Department of Education

Consumer Finance

On March 30, the CFPB filed a consent order against a San Diego-based student debt relief operation for alleged violations of the CFPA, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Regulation P. According to the CFPB, the company – marketing its services through outbound and inbound telemarketing and direct mail and falsely claiming to be affiliated with the Department of Education – charged consumers upfront fees up to $495 to enroll in federal student loan repayment programs, as well as a monthly maintenance fee of $39. The CFPB’s consent order requires the company to (i) cease all student debt relief operations; (ii) rescind all contracts entered into up to and including the date of the consent order and stop assessing fees pursuant such contracts; (iii) ensure that consumers enrolled in income-driven repayment or forgiveness plans with the Department of Education receive the paperwork necessary for annual recertification or renewal deadlines; and (iv) pay a civil money penalty of $50,000.

In light of the action, the CFPB reminded consumers of its December 2014 advisory notifying them to be mindful of companies “falsely claiming special expertise or a relationship with the Department of Education.”