Blog Enforcement Watch May 19, 2015

CA Department of Business Oversight Sues Debt Repayment Service for Alleged Excessive Fees and Unlicensed Operations

On Friday, May 15, 2015, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) announced that it filed a complaint in state court against an Ohio-based biweekly debt repayment firm and allegedly associated entities (collectively “Defendants”) claiming certain violations of licensing, fee, and consumer protection provisions of California’s Financial Code and Business & Professions Code. The complaint alleges that Defendants operated a prorating service—consumers made biweekly debt payments that Defendants subsequently remitted to lenders—in knowing and willful violation of state licensing requirements under Financial Code section 12200. According to the DBO, the Defendants also charged consumers “set-up” fees for their service in excess of the fifty-dollar limitation on loan origination fees imposed by section 12314 of the Financial Code. The complaint further alleges that Defendants engaged in unfair competition and false advertising in violation of California’s Business & Professions Code. The DBO seeks civil penalties of $2,500 – $10,000 per violation, disgorgement, and injunctive relief.