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Other Federal Enforcement Actions

Numerous federal agencies have authority to institute enforcement proceedings against wrongdoers.  These agencies include:

  • The Department of the Treasury and its divisions including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), which is responsible for safeguarding the U.S. financial system from illicit use and money laundering including through enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic and trade sanctions. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the Bank Secrecy Act can submit a claim under the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Program.  Violations of other laws enforced by the Department of Treasury may give rise to claims under different whistleblower reward programs.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is charged with preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices. The FTC can bring enforcement actions under U.S. antitrust laws and to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices. The FTC does not have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the FTC may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which 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.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces federal environmental laws and regulations. The EPA does not currently have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the EPA may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program, and a number of federal environmental laws protect government or private employees reporting environmental violations under the statutes from retaliation.

Below are summaries of recent settlements and successful enforcement actions involving these agencies. 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.

July 20, 2018

The CFPB announced a proposed settlement with TCF National Bank regarding the bank’s marketing and sale of overdraft services. TCF allegedly obscured the overdraft fees it charged and made consenting to overdraft fees seem mandatory for new customers to open an account. TCF has agreed to pay $25 million in restitution to customers who were charged overdraft fees and has agreed to an injunction to prevent future violations. CFPB

June 13, 2018

South Carolina-based Security Group Inc. and two of its subsidiaries will pay a $5 million civil penalty to resolve charges they engaged in improper debt collection practices, including calling consumers at work and physically blocking them from leaving their homes. The settlement also resolves allegations the Security Group entities provided inaccurate and incomplete consumer data to credit reporting agencies. CFPB

April 20, 2018

The CFPB assessed a $1 billion penalty against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for violating the CFPA in how it administered a mandatory insurance program related to its auto loans and how it charged certain borrowers for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions. CFPB

November 21, 2017

The CFPB ordered Citibank, N.A. to pay $3.75 million in redress to consumers and a $2.75 million civil money penalty for misleading borrowers into believing that they were not eligible for a valuable tax deduction on interest paid on certain student loans, incorrectly charging late fees and added interest to the student loan balances of borrowers who were still in school and eligible to defer their loan payments, and misleading consumers about how much they had to pay in their monthly bills and failing to disclose required information after denying borrowers’ requests to release loan cosigners. CFPB

November 20, 2017

The CFPB fined Xerox Business Services, LLC, now called Conduent Business Services, a $1.1 million civil penalty for software errors that led to the sending of incorrect consumer information about more than one million borrowers to credit reporting agencies. The company also failed to notify all of its auto lender clients about known flaws in its software that led to the errors. CFPB

November 15, 2017

The CFPB sued Think Finance for its role in deceiving consumers into repaying loans that were not legally owed. The Bureau seeks to recoup relief for harmed consumers and impose a penalty. CFPB

November 8, 2017

The CFPB sued Freedom Debt Relief, the nation’s largest debt-settlement services provider, and its co-CEO Andrew Housser for charging consumers without settling their debts as promised, making customers negotiate their own settlements, misleading customers about fees and the reach of its services, and failing to inform customers of their rights to funds they deposited with the company. The Bureau is seeking seeking compensation for harmed consumers, civil penalties, and an injunction against Freedom and Housser to halt their unlawful conduct. CFPB

October 12, 2017

The CFPB sued Federal Debt Assistance Association, LLC, Financial Document Assistance Administration, Inc. (both operating under the name “FDAA”), Clear Solutions, Inc., and their owners, Vincent Piccione, David Piccione, and Robert Pantoulis, for falsely presenting the two FDAA companies as being affiliated with the federal government. The Bureau also alleges that FDAA’s so-called “debt validation” programs violated the law by falsely promising to eliminate consumers’ debts and improve their credit scores in exchange for thousands of dollars in advance fees. The lawsuit seeks to end these deceptive practices, obtain redress for harmed consumers, and impose civil money penalties. CFPB

September 27, 2017

The CFPB ordered real estate settlement services provider Meridian Title Corporation to pay up to $1.25 million in redress to consumers for steering them to a title insurer owned in part by several of its executives without making disclosures about the businesses’ affiliation. CFPB

September 19, 2017

The CFPB filed a complaint and proposed consent order against Top Notch Funding, its owner Rory Donadio, and his business associate John “Gene” Cavalli, for lying in loan offerings to consumers who were awaiting payment from settlements in legal cases or from victim-compensation funds. The Bureau seeks $70,000 in civil money penalties and an order preventing Top Notch, Donadio, and Cavalli from offering or providing such products in the future. CFPB
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