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CFPB Enforcement Actions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws, and has the authority to bring enforcement actions against financial service providers. While the CFPB accepts tips from whistleblowers, and applicable laws offer whistleblowers protection from retaliation, there is currently no provision for CFPB whistleblowers to receive financial rewards. However, conduct that is regulated by the CFPB may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.

Below are summaries of recent CFPB settlements or successful enforcement actions. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a claim under a whistleblower reward program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

December 22, 2020

Student loan servicer Discover Bank, together with its affiliates the Student Loan Corporation and Discover Products, Inc., will pay a $25 million penalty and at least $10 million in consumer redress to resolve allegations that the bank violated a 2015 Consent Order by failing to provide the consumer redress that order required and by continuing to misrepresent minimum loan payments, and also misrepresenting the amount of interest consumers paid and other material information including interest rates, payments, due dates, and the availability of rewards, among other things.  The CFPB also found additional unfair acts and practices by defendants, including unauthorized payment transfers.  CFPB

December 22, 2020

Santander Consumer USA Inc., which originates and services non-prime auto loans, was found to have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by providing erroneous consumer loan information to credit reporting agencies between 2016 and 2019.  A CFPB Consent Order requires the bank to pay a $4.75 million monetary penalty and undertake specific compliance steps.  CFPB

December 7, 2020

The largest non-bank mortgage servicer in the country, Nationstar Mortgage, has agreed to pay $79.2 million in restitution to over 55,000 borrowers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia who were harmed by the lender’s noncompliance with numerous laws, including the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and Homeowner’s Protection Action of 1998 (HPA), from 2011 to 2017.  Additionally, Nationstar will pay another $7.1 million in costs and penalties to government parties.  CFPB; DOJ; CA AG; NY AG; PA AG

October 26, 2020

The CFPB has ordered Low VA Rates LLC to pay $1.8 million for sending consumers mailers that deceptively marketed VA-guaranteed mortgage loans.  In violation of the CFPA prohibition against deceptive acts and practices, the Mortgage Acts and Practices – Advertising Rule, and Regulation Z, the ads were found to misrepresent the credit terms of the loans, including the amount of each payment and the annual percentage rate, and misleadingly indicate that it could help consumers eliminate debt.  This is the ninth such enforcement action by the CFPB against deceptive mailers of VA-guaranteed mortgage loans.  In total, the CFPB has obtained more than $4.4 million in civil money penalties.  CFPB

October 13, 2020

Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, an auto financing subsidiary of the car manufacturer, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4 million and provide up to $1 million in restitution to customers to settle charges that the company engaged in illegal collections and repossession practices.  The company was alleged to have repossessed cars despite the customer having made payments or taken other actions to avoid repossession; imposed improper storage fees; refused to return personal property to customers; overcharged customers making payments by telephone; and mislead customers regarding their right to bankruptcy relief.  CFPB

September 15, 2020

ITT Technical Institute settled claims with the CFPB and 48 states and the District of Columbia, agreeing to discharge outstanding student loans incurred for attendance at the for-profit college, run by holding company PEAKS.  PEAKS allegedly knew or was reckless in not knowing that many student borrowers did not understand the terms and conditions of those loans, could not afford them, or in some cases did not even know they had them. The settlement, valued at $330 million, also requires PEAKS to provide credit reporting agencies information to correct credit scores negatively affected by the illegal lending scheme, and to shut down after carrying out the settlement.  CFPB; Cal; FL; MI; PA; VA; WA

August 20, 2020

TD Bank, N.A. has been ordered to pay an estimated $97 million in restitution to about 1.42 million customers, as well as a civil monetary penalty of $25 million, for engaging in deceptive practices that violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  In connection with its optional Debit Card Advance (DCA) service, TD Bank allegedly interfered with its customers’ ability to understand terms and conditions by misrepresenting DCA as “free” or a “feature” of their new checking accounts, when in reality it could result in fees of $35 per overdraft transaction.  Furthermore, in connection with consumer account information, TD Bank allegedly failed to implement policies that would ensure the accuracy of that information before it was provided to consumer reporting agencies.  CFPB

July 23, 2020

Certified Forensic Loan Auditors, LLC (CFLA) and its president and CEO, Andrew Lehman, have been ordered to pay a suspended judgment of $3 million in restitution and $40,000 in civil monetary penalty for making misleading statements about the content and efficacy of its services, the qualifications of its employees, and its ability to help customers avoid foreclosure, all while charging unlawful advance fees.  For violating Regulation O and the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA), CFLA and Lehman have been permanently banned from providing similar services in the future.  CFPB

July 8, 2020

Timemark, Inc. and owners Timothy Lenihan, Sr., Mark Nagler, and Casey Gassaway have been ordered to pay $3.8 million in restitution and civil penalties to resolve allegations of defrauding more than 7,300 student loan borrowers.  According to the CFPB, between 2016 and 2019, the Florida-based company convinced consumers to pay up to $699 in fees to file paperwork for loan consolidation, forgiveness, or repayment plans that the U.S. Department of Education already offered for free.  Timemark also did so using telemarketing campaigns, which violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).  Because of the defendants’ limited ability to pay, full payment has been ordered suspended provided Timemark pays $5,000, Nagler pays $7,000, Gassaway pays $10,000, and defendants each paid a $1 civil monetary penalty.  CFPB

July 25, 2019

Douglas MacKinnon of Buffalo, New York, and associated individuals and entities in the debt collection business, including Northern Resolution Group, LLC, Enhanced Acquisitions LLC, Delray Capital, LLC, and Mark Gray, will pay more than $66 million in restitution and penalties in a settlement reached with New York state and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The companies routinely engaged in unlawful and predatory debt collection practices, including: misrepresenting to consumers that they owed sums they did not owe or were not obligated to pay, or that the companies did not have a legal right to collect; falsely threatening consumers with legal action that the collectors had no intention of taking; and, impersonating law enforcement and other government officials.  The settlement permanently bans MacKinnon and Gray and their defendant companies from the debt collection industry. CFPB, NY
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