CFPB fines short-term lender $1.3 million for unfair and deceptive acts and practices
On April 1, the CFPB announced a $1.3 million settlement with a Texas-based short-term lender to resolve allegations that the lender violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act, FCRA, and TILA. The Bureau alleged that while “marketing, servicing, and collecting on high-interest payday, auto-title, and unsecured consumer-installment loans,” the lender made deceptive representations through advertisements and telemarketing calls when promoting purported loan discounts. The Bureau also alleged that the lender engaged in unfair collection call practices by allegedly calling consumers who failed to make payments numerous times—some more than 15 or 20 times a day—even after being asked to stop. In addition, the lender allegedly repeatedly called consumers’ workplaces and references as a tactic to obtain payments and disclosed, or risked disclosing, to third parties the existence of the delinquent debts. According to the Bureau, the lender also violated FCRA by failing to maintain adequate consumer reporting policies and procedures to ensure the “accuracy and integrity” of the information furnished to consumer reporting agencies, and violated TILA by failing to provide telemarketers guidance on how to lawfully disclose a loan’s annual percentage rate as required by federal law when responding to consumers’ questions about interest and other loan costs.
Under the terms of the consent order, the lender is required to pay a $1.1 million civil money penalty, $286,675 in consumer redress, and is, among other things, (i) permanently restrained from certain collection practices; (ii) required to ensure employees do not misrepresent discount offers when marketing or selling consumer financial products or services; and (iii) tasked with ensuring employees correctly disclose the APR of loan products.