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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB and Massachusetts AG sue credit-repair telemarketers

Federal Issues CFPB State Attorney General Enforcement Credit Repair State Issues CFPA Telemarketing Sales Rule

Federal Issues

On May 22, the CFPB and the Massachusetts attorney general announced a joint lawsuit against a credit repair organization and the company’s president and owner (collectively, “defendants”) for allegedly committing deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law. The complaint also alleges the defendants engaged in deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s (CFPA) prohibition against deceptive acts or practices and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the defendants allegedly enrolled tens of thousands of consumers by deceptively claiming that their credit-repair services could help consumers substantially improve their credit scores. The services also allegedly promised to fix “unlimited” amounts of negative items from consumers’ credit reports. However, the complaint asserts that in “numerous instances,” the defendants failed to achieve these results. The defendants also allegedly engaged in abusive acts and practices in violation of the TSR by requesting and collecting fees before achieving any results related to repairing a consumer’s credit. Among other things, the complaint further alleges that the defendants claimed to have more than 60 credit repair experts but actually only employed a handful of Boston-based employees, only some of whom interacted with consumers. The majority of the interactions, the complaint alleges, were conducted by telemarketers located in Central America who were paid “almost entirely by commission” based on the number of consumers they enrolled.

The complaint seeks injunctive relief; “damages and other monetary relief against [the defendants] as the Court finds necessary to redress injury to consumers resulting from [the defendants’] violations, which may include, among other things, rescission or reformation of contracts, refund of monies paid, and restitution; and civil money penalties.”

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