Just before the new year, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced a $250,000 settlement with Caliber Homes, Inc. to resolve allegations that Caliber attempted to mislead approximately 220,000 consumers into thinking that its mailings actually came from the customers’ current mortgage companies by sending advertisements that displayed the name and mailing address of the consumers’ original mortgage company instead of Caliber’s. AG Frosh alleged that Caliber’s conduct violated Maryland law, which prohibits licensed lenders from advertising under any name or address that is not their own.
In a press release, AG Frosh emphasized that “[t]oday’s settlement sends a strong message to lenders who engage in illegal advertising: [I]t must stop. Consumers should not have to navigate through their mail to determine who their real lender is when they are considering responding to a loan offer.”
Why It Matters
Regulators often target deceptive advertising practices — no matter how small the deception may seem. The specific practice of mailing an envelope that appears to be sent from a consumer’s mortgage company but actually contains a solicitation from an unrelated third-party occurs in jurisdictions across the country despite being generally prohibited by state and federal laws. AGs looking to crack down on such practices will be encouraged by the Caliber settlement. Companies that employ similar tactics should survey the regulatory landscape in their jurisdictions to ensure that advertising practices do not generate additional regulatory risk.
Troutman Pepper State Attorneys General Team
|Ashley Taylor – Co-leader and Firm Vice Chair |
Ashley is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. He focuses primarily on federal and state government regulatory and enforcement matters involving state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Drawing upon his experience as a deputy attorney general, Ashley has developed an extensive consumer practice with regard to the consumer financial services industry.
|Clay Friedman – Co-leader |
Clay is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. Informed by nearly a decade in a state attorneys general office, and more than 25 years in private practice, Clay spends much of his time representing clients in singular or multistate regulatory actions. Clay has repeatedly led teams before all 50 state attorneys general and also handles matters with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other local, state and federal agencies.
|Stephen Piepgrass |
Stephen represents clients interacting with, and being investigated by, state attorneys general and other enforcement bodies, including the CFPB and FTC, as well as clients involved with litigation, particularly in heavily regulated industries.
|Michael Yaghi |
Michael handles high-profile state attorneys general, FTC, and CFPB investigations by advising clients through these complex government inquiries. He assists clients through the entire life cycle of investigations, from regulatory enforcement through formal litigation.
|Ketan Bhirud |
As a former government official at the state and federal level, Ketan leverages extensive experience in the public and private sectors to skillfully represent client interests.
|Avi Schick |
A former deputy attorney general of New York, Avi applies his experience in bet-the-company matters, representing clients in criminal and civil investigations and enforcement actions before state and federal regulators, prosecutors and enforcement agencies.
|Chris Carlson |
Chris represents clients in regulatory, civil and criminal investigations and litigation. In his practice, Chris regularly employs his prior regulatory experience to benefit clients who are interacting with and being investigated by state attorneys general.
|Natalia Jacobo |
Natalia is an associate in the firm’s business litigation practice. She recently received her J.D from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
|Namrata Kang |
Namrata is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, based in the Washington, D.C. office. Her work includes advising clients in regulatory investigations and compliance matters, in addition to representing clients in civil litigation matters.
|Whitney Shephard |
Whitney is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group. She represents clients facing state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, as well as related civil litigation.
|Stephanie Kozol |
Stephanie is Troutman Pepper’s senior government relations manager in the state attorneys general department.