CFPB Announces First Joint Enforcement Action With State Authorities


On December 21, the CFPB announced that it obtained an order from a federal district court in Florida that requires a nationwide payday debt relief services company to refund up to $100,000 to consumers who were charged advance fees for promised debt-settlement services that the company never actually rendered. While the amount of the refund obtained through the order is relatively small, the action is notable as the first joint enforcement action by the CFPB and certain state partners. The CFPB was joined in the suit by the attorneys general of New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, as well as the State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection. Following an investigation into the payday debt solution firm, the CFPB alleged that the company violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Dodd-Frank Act, and various state laws, by telemarketing debt-relief services and requesting or receiving fees from consumers for those services before renegotiating, settling, reducing, or otherwise altering the terms of at least one of the consumer’s debts. The CFPB announcement notes that the company cooperated with the CFPB and halted the allegedly illegal operations, and that in addition to the customer refunds the firm will pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the CFPB.