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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District of Columbia AG claims online lender violated usury statutes

State Issues State Attorney General Online Lending Usury Interest Rate Courts Predatory Lending

State Issues

On June 5, the District of Columbia attorney general filed a complaint against an online lender for alleged violations of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) by marketing high-costs loans carrying interest rates exceeding D.C.’s interest rate caps. The complaint alleges that the lender offers two loan products to D.C. residents: (i) an installment loan with an annual percentage rate (APR) range of 99-149 percent; and (ii) a second loan product with an undisclosed APR that ranges between 129-251 percent. However, interest rates in D.C. are capped at 24 percent for loans with the rate expressed in the contract (loans that do not state an express interest rate in the contract are capped at six percent), and licensed money lenders that exceed these limits are in violation of the CPPA. According to the AG, the lender—who has allegedly never possessed a money lending license in D.C.—violated the CCPA by (i) unlawfully misrepresenting it is allowed to offer loans in D.C. and failing to disclose or adequately disclose that its loans contain APRs in excess of D.C. usury limits; (ii) engaging in unfair and unconscionable practices through misleading marketing efforts; and (iii) violating D.C. usury laws. In addition, the lender allegedly violated District of Columbia Municipal Regulations Title 16 by lending money in D.C. without being licensed. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction, restitution, and civil penalties. In addition, the complaint asks the court to order the lender’s loans unenforceable and void.

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