FTC temporarily halts payday lending enterprise
On May 22, the FTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada granted a temporary restraining order against a group of 11 defendants operating a payday lending enterprise for allegedly deceptively overcharging consumers and withdrawing money from consumers’ accounts without permission. According to the complaint filed by the FTC, the defendants advertised loans with fixed payback terms, but in many cases, the payback terms would default to debiting the financial fee only. In some circumstances, consumers would receive an email with payback options, including “full payoff, loan extension, and loan buy down,” but the defendants would still require the consumer to notify them three days in advance if they wanted to pay off the entire loan amount, if not, only the “financial fee” would be debited. The FTC argues that the defendants violated the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, TILA/Regulation Z, and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act/Regulation E by, among other things, (i) marketing loan products as having a fixed number of payments when funds were only being applied to finance charges and payment withdrawals continued beyond the promised number of payments; (ii) failing to make the required loan disclosures; (iii) failing to obtain proper authorization for reoccurring bank account withdrawals; and (iv) unlawfully using remotely created checks. Beyond the temporary restraining order, the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction, contract rescission, restitution, and disgorgement.