On June 7, the FTC announced that it submitted its 2022 Annual Financial Acts Enforcement Report to the CFPB. The report covers FTC enforcement activities regarding the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Consumer Leasing Act (CLA), and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). Highlights of the enforcement matters covered in the report include, among other things:
- Automobile purchase and financing. The report discussed an April 2022 settlement with a car dealership group, which resolved claims that the dealership group added on unwanted fees to consumers and allegedly failed to include details on repayment and annual percentage rates in advertising mailers. The settlement led to a redress sent to consumers.
- Payday lending. The report highlighted a settlement reached with a payday lending enterprise for allegedly overcharging consumers millions of dollars. The FTC claimed the enterprise made deceptive statements about the terms of their loan agreements and payments and withdrew funds from consumers’ accounts without consent. The order resulted in consumers receiving refunds.
- Credit repair and debt relief. The report included a settlement with the operators of a student loan debt relief scheme, who were charged with “falsely promising consumers it could lower or eliminate student loan balances, illegally imposing upfront fees for credit repair services, and signing consumers up for high-interest loans to pay the fees without making required loan disclosures in violation of the FTC Act and TILA.” The order also resulted in consumers receiving refunds.
- Other credit. The report detailed the first case involving the Military Lending Act, where a jewelry company was charged with allegedly charging military families illegal financing and using deceptive sales practices. Specifically, the company was charged with deceptively claiming that financing jewelry through the company would increase the consumer’s credit score, misrepresenting that their protection plans were required, and adding plans without the consumer’s consent. The company was also charged with failing to provide clear terms for preauthorized electronic fund transfers. The settlement required the company to provide refunds, stop collecting debt, and cease operations and dissolve.
Additionally, the FTC addressed rulemaking that is underway. The agency highlighted an impending ban on junk fees and bait and switch advertising tactics, and briefly discussed two advance notices of proposed rulemaking issued last October that would crack down on junk fees and fake reviews and endorsements. The FTC also highlighted the Military Task Force’s work on consumer protection issues.