On January 16, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York Attorney General announced a settlement with a retailer for alleged violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), as well as New York State law arising out of the retailer’s sales practices for its store credit cards; in particular, the alleged misrepresentation by the retailer in connection with opening of credit accounts on behalf of customers and misrepresentation of the credit financing terms. As part of the settlements, the retailer is required to pay $10 million in civil money penalties to the CFPB and $1 million in civil money penalties to the State of New York.
ALLEGED VIOLATIONS -
The CFPB alleged in its complaint that the retailer engaged in unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of the CFPA and New York State law by (i) submitting credit applications and opening accounts for store credit card accounts without the customer’s knowledge or consent; (ii) signing customers up for credit insurance products without the customer’s knowledge or consent; and (iii) misrepresenting credit terms (e.g., interest rate, payment amount) and promotional financing terms. In particular, the CFPB alleged that, when asking customers to provide their personal information, the retailer’s employees misrepresented to customers that the customers were providing their personal information in connection with being enrolled in the retailer’s rewards program or completing a survey. Often, according to the CFPB, customers found out that they had submitted credit card applications or had accrued fees in connection with promotional financing or payment protection insurance on their accounts only after receiving the credit card in the mail or finding an inquiry on their credit reports. The CFPB also highlighted that the payment protection plan allegedly sold to customers without their consent generated “significant revenues” for the retailer.
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