On October 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it entered into a consent order with a national credit union over allegations that the credit union made false and misleading representations to consumers when attempting to collect on past due accounts. The credit union serves military members and their families. The CFPB alleged that the credit union falsely threatened legal action against servicemembers when they became delinquent on credit card accounts or had overdrawn depository accounts. The CFPB determined that because the credit union rarely pursued legal action against servicemembers, the letters sent to servicemembers threatening legal action were false and misleading under the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The credit union also allegedly threatened to contact servicemembers’ commanding officers about the overdue accounts, falsely represented the effect of delinquency on servicemembers’ credit ratings, and improperly restricted access to servicemembers’ accounts when they became overdrawn. Under the terms of the consent order, the credit union agreed to pay $23 million in compensation to consumers who received letters threatening legal action or letters threatening to contact servicemembers’ commanding officers. The credit union also agreed to pay a $5.5 million civil penalty and reform its debt collection practices.
Blog Enforcement Watch October 13, 2016