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FTC, state AGs order says retailer used illegal tactics on servicemembers
On July 20, the FTC and 18 state attorneys general announced a proposed order against a national jewelry retailer (defendant) for allegedly using illegal financing and sales practices on service members and their families. In the complaint, the FTC alleged that the defendants violated the TILA, Holder Rule, and EFTA, among other things, by: (i) making false or unsubstantiated claims that financing jewelry purchases through the company would result in higher credit scores; (ii) misrepresenting that the protection plan was required to finance purchases; and (iii) failing to provide clear written disclosures and meet authorization requirements for contracts. The complaint also alleged that the defendant violated the Military Lending Act (MLA), the FTC’s first action under this Act, because, by failing to “provide disclosures in accord with TILA, including the Itemization of the Amount Financed, they also do not provide all disclosures required by the MLA.” The proposed order requires that the defendants are, among other things: (i) prohibited from making misrepresentations; (ii) prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims; (ii) banned from the marketing or sale of ancillary products or services; and (iii) banned from transferring retail installment contracts to third parties. The order also requires the defendant to refund approximately $10.9 million for purchased protection plans, and provide refunds for overpayments.
CFPB testifies on commitment to servicemembers
On July 13, the CFPB testified before Subcommittee on National Security of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding the Bureau’s efforts with respect to servicemembers. The testimony began by noting that the Bureau “is committed to our mission . . . to educate and empower servicemembers, monitor their complaints, and coordinate efforts across the government to protect servicemembers and their families in the financial marketplace.” The Bureau pointed out that it has received more than 4.2 million consumer complaints since June 30, including more than 286,000 complaints from servicemembers, veterans, and military family members. The testimony highlighted efforts by the Bureau to protect military members, such as: (i) issuing a consent order against a Nevada-based consumer lender for allegedly violating the Military Lending Act (MLA), the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), and the CFPA when making installment loans (covered by InfoBytes here); (ii) filing a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against a California-based online lender for allegedly made making more than 4,000 single-payment or installment loans to over 1,200 covered borrowers in violation of the MLA (covered by InfoBytes here); and (iii) filing a complaint against a Texas-based pawn lender and its wholly owned subsidiary for allegedly violating the MLA by charging active-duty servicemembers and their dependents more than the allowable 36 percent annual percentage rate on pawn loans (covered by InfoBytes here). The testimony, among other things, also discussed the Bureau’s collaborations with other agencies such as the FTC and the VA to protect servicemembers from scams and fraud.
Wyoming passes consumer lending act
Earlier this year, the Wyoming governor signed HB 8 to authorize sales-finance activities for some licensees and establish procedures and calculations for refunding certain credit-insurance products upon prepayment. Among other things, this act exempts certain supervised financial institutions from certain notice and fee requirements in the Wyoming Uniform Consumer Credit Code (the Code) and generally restructures the Code to repeal statutes for consumer-related and supervised loans, consolidating the provisions for those loans into existing laws for consumer loans. Regarding the MLA, the act authorizes that “the administrator may seek an appropriate remedy, penalty, action or license revocation or suspension.” This act is effective July 1.