On August 20, 2015, the CFPB and the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced they had filed a lawsuit in federal court in California against two regional financial companies. According the complaint, the companies deceived consumers about the fees and interest rates associated with pension loans. The companies allegedly offered cash payments to consumers in exchange for their agreement to redirect pension payments to the companies. The companies allegedly marketed these transactions online as direct sales of future pension payments. Consumers who searched the internet for phrases such as “pension loans” or “military pension loans” were allegedly steered to the companies’ websites through a variety of online marketing tools. According to the complaint, the companies actually treated the transactions as a loan. The companies allegedly charged significant interest rates and fees to consumers in connection with the loans, which consumers were forced to pay in addition to repaying the principal amount advanced. The effective interest rates on the loans allegedly approached 28%, higher than some credit cards. The CFPB and the NYDFS allege that the companies failed to disclose the interest rate or the fees to consumers, on either the website or in subsequent communications with consumers. These practices allegedly violated both federal and state consumer protection laws. The CFPB and the NYDFS filed the complaint in federal court in California, seeking civil penalties, restitution, disgorgement, and injunctive relief.
Blog Enforcement Watch August 21, 2015