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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB enters proposed final judgment in TSR and CFPA violation suit

Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement Student Lending Department of Education Telemarketing Sales Rule CFPA Debt Relief

Federal Issues

On April 29, the CFPB filed a proposed stipulated final judgment and order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California resolving allegations that a student loan debt relief business and a general debt-settlement company, along with their owner and CEO (collectively, “defendants”), engaged in wrongful fee-charging practices and deceptive telemarketing. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CFPB filed a complaint against the defendants for allegedly violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) by charging illegal advance fees and using deceptive tactics to induce consumers to sign up for services. According to the complaint, from 2015 to the present, the defendants allegedly charged consumers upfront fees for the debt-relief company to file paperwork with the Department of Education to obtain loan consolidation, loan forgiveness, or income-driven repayment plans. Some consumers paid the upfront fee using a third-party financing company and paid an APR between 17 and 22 percent. The CFPB also alleged that the defendants required some consumers to pay the fee in installments into a trust plan, which carried a $6 monthly banking fee paid to the administrator of the trust accounts. The Bureau alleged that the defendants failed to provide the proper disclosures under the TSR. Moreover, the complaint asserted that from 2019 to the present, the defendants violated the CFPA by representing to consumers that they were turned down for a loan in order to pitch the company’s settlement services. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the student loan debt relief business and the general debt-settlement company are permanently banned from engaging in debt relief services, and the CEO is banned for five years.

The CEO is also required to pay a civil monetary penalty of $30,000 to the CFPB.

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