CFPB and New York Attorney General File Lawsuit Against Network of Collections Companies

On November 2, the CFPB, in partnership with the New York Attorney General, filed a lawsuit in a federal district court against the leaders of a debt collection operation based out of Buffalo. The lawsuit alleges that defendants operate a network of companies that harass and/or deceive consumers into paying inflated debts or amounts they may not owe. The Bureau is seeking to shut down the operation and to obtain compensation for victims and a civil penalty against the companies and partners.

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CFPB Takes Action Against B&B Pawnbrokers For Misleadingly Low Annual Percentage Rate

On November 3, the CFPB filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a Virginia pawnbroker for deceiving consumers about the actual annual cost of its loans. In its Complaint, the CFPB alleges both TILA violations and unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices under Dodd-Frank and the CPA. The complaint seeks monetary relief, injunctive relief, and penalties. The CFPB coordinated its investigation with the Virginia Attorney General’s office – which filed its own lawsuit against the same pawnbrokers back in July 2015 for violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

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State AGs Urge the CFPB to Ensure that States Maintain the Right to Set Usury Caps on High Cost Loans

In October, New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman, along with seven other state AGs (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont and the District of Columbia), submitted a letter to the CFPB in response to the agency’s proposed rule addressing payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain high-cost installment loans. While commending the CFPB for introducing additional consumer protections, the letter urges the CFPB to integrate the following language from the preamble of the proposed rule into the body of the final rule: “The protections imposed by this proposal would operate as a floor across the country, while leaving State and local jurisdictions to adopt additional regulatory requirements (whether a usury limit or another form of protection) above that floor as they judge appropriate to protect consumers in their respective jurisdictions.” The letter explains that because the CFPB does not have the authority to set interest rates – or usury caps – for loans, it is “crucial” that states maintain their right to do so.

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California AG Harris Launches New Consumer Privacy Tool

On October 14, California AG Harris released an online complaint form designed to help consumers report potential violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA). Pursuant to the CalOPPA, commercial websites and online services collecting consumer information are required to post privacy policies that include “the categories of information collected, the types of the third parties with whom the operator may share that information, instructions regarding how the consumer can review and request changes to his or her information, and the [policy’s] effective date.” As part of AG Harris’s “multi-pronged” effort to improve online privacy for consumers, the form will allow consumers to “crowdsource” privacy policy violations, thus “exponentially increasing the California Department of Justice’s ability to identify and notify those in violation of CalOPPA.”

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Connecticut AG Jepsen and Banking Commissioner Perez Resolve RMBS Investigation

On October 3, Connecticut AG Jepsen, alongside Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez, resolved a four-year investigation into a Connecticut-based investment bank’s residential mortgage-back securities (RMBS) practices. According to the consent order, from January 2005 to December 2008, the investment bank was the lead securities underwriter of about 250 RMBS deals with a value of more than $250 billion. The state alleged, among other things, that the bank’s due diligence process on the 250 RMBS deals was “inadequate and resulted in omissions and misstatements in the representations made to the public and investors about the securities.” The $120 million settlement is Connecticut’s largest single settlement in history.

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