Blog Enforcement Watch June 23, 2020

New York AG Settles with Debt Settlement Company for $3.6 Million

On June 23, 2020, the New York Office of Attorney General (New York AG) announced that it reached a $3.6 million settlement with a national debt settlement company for allegedly violating the terms of a March 2011 settlement. Under the previous settlement, the company was alleged to have engaged in fraudulent or illegal acts and deceptive practices under New York law by misrepresenting the amount of savings that could be achieved by New Yorkers used who used their products. Pursuant to the 2011 settlement, the company was ordered to pay $1.1 million in consumer restitution and $100,000 in civil money penalties. Additionally, the company was prohibited from advertising certain savings that could be achieved by New Yorkers unless those savings had been achieved by a majority of New York consumers. The company was also required to clearly disclose that the savings only applied to a defined group and also specifically delineate what percentage of New Yorkers were represented by that defined group.

In the new settlement agreement, OAG alleges that the company failed to comply with the 2011 settlement by continuing to advertise savings ​on its website without making the required disclosures.  For example, the company allegedly advertised a savings rate for consumers who made all their monthly program deposits, but failed to disclose that this group only represented one third of all New York consumers and that the majority of New York consumers only achieved half of the advertised savings.

Under the new settlement, the company is ordered to pay the State of New York $3.6 million in consumer restitution and must comply with injunctive provisions that further clarify the terms of the 2011 agreement.