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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

New York AG settles with debt relief company for $3.6 million

State Issues State Attorney General New York Settlement Debt Relief

State Issues

On June 23, the New York attorney general announced a $3.6 million proposed settlement with a debt relief operation for allegedly making exaggerated advertisements in violation of a 2011 consent order with the state. According to the press release, the 2011 consent order was based on allegations that the company engaged in “illegal, fraudulent, and deceptive practices” related to advertising. The 2011 consent order permitted the company to advertise certain savings if those savings were achieved by a defined group of New York consumers and if the company “clearly disclosed which consumers were in that group and what approximate percentage of the whole group of New York consumers the defined group represented.” However, the attorney general alleges the company failed to follow this requirement and continued to advertise consumer savings without disclosing the details of the group who achieved the savings, noting that “the majority of New York consumers achieved less than half of the savings [the company] advertised.”

In addition to the $3.6 million in restitution for the New York consumers, the proposed settlement reinforces the 2011 consent order’s injunctive provisions and requires the company to (i) acknowledge that certain high savings numbers are not typical by “[e]xpressly stating the percentage of consumers who achieve the high end range of savings claims”; and (ii) ensure that future savings claims are based on consumers’ total debt with the company’s program.

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