On November 3, Colorado Attorney General (AG) Phil Weiser announced that his office reached a settlement with Touchstone Partners, Inc. (Touchstone), a noted debt management company. The AG’s allegations were that Touchstone had violated the Colorado Debt Management Services Act (C.R.S. § 5-19-201 et seq.).
On October 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations (the Division) released its 2024 Examination Priorities report. The report highlights that future examinations will focus on “risk areas impacting various market participants,” emphasizing risks posed by products and services: (1) related to cryptocurrency; and (2) that leverage emerging technology. In addition, the report indicates that examinations will focus on market participants’ compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws.
On October 17, following Washington Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson’s unsuccessful consumer protection action against thrift store chain, Savers Value Village Inc. (Savers), the Washington Superior Court of King County granted Savers’ motion for attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $4.3 million. This substantial award — which is allowable under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (WA CPA) — represents a substantial recoupment of Savers’ attorneys’ fees spent to defend the almost decade-long litigation.Continue Reading Washington AG Ordered to Pay $4.3M in Attorney’s Fees and Costs to Thrift Store Chain
On August 16, a coalition of seven state attorneys general (AG) announced a settlement with participants alleged to be involved in a “massive” robocall operation. The stipulated order, which names Scott Shapiro, Michael T. Smith, Jr., and Health Advisors of America (defendants), permanently bans Shapiro and Smith from initiating or facilitating robocalls; working in or with companies that make robocalls; and engaging in telemarketing. The settlement also requires the defendants to make monetary payments to the coalition, which is comprised of AGs from the states of Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas (the AGs).Continue Reading Seven State AGs Announce Settlement With Robocallers
A bipartisan coalition of 23 state attorney generals led by Virginia AG Jason Miyares recently went up in arms about a products liability ruling they believe will threaten state consumer protection laws. On May 30, the coalition filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ claims in In Re: Fosamax (Alendronate Sodium) Products Liability Litigation, a consolidated case where hundreds of plaintiffs claimed to suffer femur fractures as a result of taking Merck drug Fosamax.Continue Reading State AGs Choose Products Liability Case as Battleground for State Sovereignty
On May 10, SoLo Funds, Inc. (Solo), one of the largest community lending platforms in the United States, entered into a settlement with the District of Columbia attorney general (OAG). The settlement resolves claims that the company’s lending practices violated D.C. usury law and constituted unfair, deceptive, and/or abusive acts under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.Continue Reading DC OAG Resolves Alleged Usury and Deceptive Acts Violations With Community Lending Platform
As discussed here, on December 7, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) made a preliminary conclusion that a New York commercial financing law was not preempted by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The Bureau indicated it was also considering whether to make a preemption determination regarding similar state laws in California, Utah, and Virginia. On January 20, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta submitted a letter to the CFPB agreeing with its preliminary determination that California’s Commercial Financing Disclosures Law (CFDL) is not preempted by TILA because the CFDL only applies to commercial financing and not to consumer credit transactions within the scope of TILA. Attorney General Bonta further urged the CFPB to “revisit the Federal Reserve Board’s (Board) vague and overbroad articulation of the TILA preemption standard. The CFPB should articulate a narrower standard that emphasizes that preemption should be limited to situations where it is impossible to comply with both TILA and the state law or where the state law stands as an obstacle to the full purposes TILA, which is to provide consumers with full and meaningful disclosure of credit terms in consumer credit transactions.”Continue Reading California AG Agrees with CFPB’s Preliminary Preemption Determination, Urges Bureau to Further Narrow TILA Preemption
On January 4, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that his office had reached settlements with Bellco and Canvas credit unions which will provide $4 million in refunds of unearned guaranteed automobile protection (GAP) premiums to consumers that the credit unions failed to provide previously. In June 2022, we posted here about the five prior settlements reached by the state AG over GAP refunds. Based on the AG’s comments in the press release, we expect continued scrutiny in this area. “When hardworking Coloradans pay for GAP coverage, they deserve to receive what they are owed … My office will continue to hold accountable companies that violate the law and leave Coloradans without the money they were due.”Continue Reading Colorado AG Announces Two More Settlements in GAP Refund Cases
On December 27, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (the Division) entered a consent order with Yellowstone Capital LLC (Yellowstone) and several related companies to resolve allegations that, in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the company engaged in abusive lending practices in connection with Merchant Cash Advances to small business owners (MCAs). Pursuant to the settlement, Yellowstone must forgive all outstanding balances for customers who entered MCAs, which is estimated to be approximately $21.7 million, and pay more than $5.6 million to the Division for purposes that may include, restitution, attorneys’ fees, costs of investigation and litigation and costs of administering restitution, and penalties up to $250,000. The order also imposes additional requirements regarding Yellowstone’s agreements and collections activity discussed below.Continue Reading NJ Attorney General Reaches Settlement With Merchant Cash Advance Company Over Alleged Unfair and Deceptive Practices
On December 8, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a statement regarding its intent to investigate certain participants in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This announcement, just a few months after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its first-ever False Claims…