DFPI takes action against student debt-relief company
On August 9, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) issued a consent order with a student loan debt relief company, resolving allegations that the company violated the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) by collecting illegal advance fees prohibited under the federal TSR. According to DFPI, the announcement follows a “wider crackdown” initiated in February against student loan debt-relief companies in violation of the CCFPL and the Student Loan Servicing Act (covered by InfoBytes here). The company allegedly advertised promises of reducing student debt in exchange for an initial payment as high as $899 and an ongoing monthly fee of $39. DFPI alleges that over 1,000 California student loan borrowers signed up and were charged illegal up-front fees prohibited under the federal telemarketing law. The consent order requires the company to refund California student loan borrowers the approximate $870,000 it collected in fees and to pay a $500,000 penalty to DFPI. The company also agreed to cease its illegal conduct, cancel all unlawful contracts with consumers, and refund consumers within 60 days.