Court rejects dismissal of CFPB claims against foreclosure relief services company
On May 20, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied a foreclosure relief services company and its owner’s (collectively, “defendants”) motion to dismiss an action by the CFPB accusing the defendants of violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and Regulation O. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in September 2019, the CFPB filed a complaint against the defendants, alleging that since 2014 the defendants made deceptive and unsubstantiated representations about the efficacy and material aspects of its mortgage assistance relief services, and made misleading or false claims about the experience and qualifications of its employees. The Bureau alleged that the defendants’ representations constituted abusive acts and practices because, among other things, consumers “generally did not understand and were not in a position to evaluate the accuracy of [the defendants’] marketing representations or the quality of the mortgage-assistance-relief services that [the defendants] sold.” Moreover, the Bureau claimed the defendants further violated Regulation O by charging consumers advance fees before rendering services. The defendants moved to dismiss the action.
The district court rejected all of the defendants’ arguments, concluding that the Bureau “as an organization and its establishment” are constitutionally permissible, and therefore, can bring enforcement actions against the company. The court also held that the Bureau adequately pleaded that the defendants’ were covered by the CFPA and Regulation O, as providers of “[a]udit and litigation documents to consumers, which Defendants claim will prevent foreclosure or modify the terms of [consumers] mortgage[s].” And lastly, the court held that the Bureau sufficiently alleged that the defendants took “unreasonable advantage of the consumer’s lack of understanding” of the material terms of the product they were selling.