FTC settles with payday lender
On February 11, the FTC announced a settlement with the owners and operators of a payday lending enterprise (collectively, “defendants”) for allegedly deceptively overcharging consumers and withdrawing money from consumers’ accounts without permission. The FTC filed a complaint against the defendants last year claiming, among other things, that the defendants violated the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, TILA/Regulation Z, and EFTA/Regulation E, by advertising loans with fixed payback terms and promising consumers that their loans would be repaid after a pre-determined number of payments. However, the FTC claimed that in many cases the payback terms defaulted to debiting the financial fee only, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada granted a temporary restraining order against the defendants (covered by InfoBytes here). Under the terms of the stipulated final order, the FTC ordered that any consumer debt for loans issued and assigned to the defendants are “deemed paid in full to the extent that such [e]xisting [d]ebt exceeds the amount financed plus one finance charge. . . .” The defendants are also (i) permanently banned from the payday lending industry, including making loans or extending credit of any kind; (ii) prohibited from making any misrepresentations related to the collection of any debt; (iii) prohibited from making unauthorized electronic fund transfers from consumers’ bank accounts; and (iv) permanently banned from creating, or causing to be created, any remotely created payment orders. A $114 million monetary judgment will be partially suspended upon completion of asset transfers from all financial institutions holding accounts in the defendants’ names.