Georgia Attorney General Latest To Sue Tribe-Affiliated Online Payday Lender

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On July 29, Georgia Attorney General (AG) Sam Olens announced a lawsuit against a payday lending operation affiliated with a Native American Tribe for allegedly making illegal loans in that state. The AG asserts that the state’s Pay Day Lending Act specifically prohibits the making of payday loans, including the making of payday loans to Georgia residents through the Internet. The AG alleges, based on an investigation conducted after receiving numerous consumer complaints, that (i) the payday lender makes high interest payday loans to Georgia consumers over the Internet despite not having a license to lend in that state, (ii) the lender has continued to electronically withdraw funds from consumers’ bank accounts even after the consumers have repaid the full amount of the principal on the loan, and (iii) the loan servicer has harassed consumers with repeated telephone calls, obscene and abusive language, threats of wage garnishment or other legal action. In his complaint, the AG rejects claims by the defendants that their lending activities are governed solely by tribal laws, stating that only Georgia law governs loan agreements with Georgia borrowers. According to the AG, efforts to resolve the issue without litigation were undermined by the defendants’ continuing illegal activity. The AG is seeking (i) to enjoin the operation from making or collecting on any loans, (ii) a declaration that any pending loans are null and void, and (iii) civil penalties and attorneys’ fees. Georgia is among several states, in addition to the FTC, to take action against this operation. For example, earlier this month Minnesota Attorney Lori Swanson filed suit a similar suit against the same operation targeted by the Georgia suit.