The Minnesota Attorney General announced that she has filed a lawsuit in state court against two pension advance companies.
According to the AG’s press release, the companies often solicited borrowers through their own websites or websites of “lead generators” who marketed “pension loans” or “loans that can fit your needs.” The press release states that the transactions required military veterans and senior citizens to assign portions of their monthly pension payments for up to ten years in exchange for much smaller cash amounts (usually less than $5,000) on which the AG claimed the companies typically charged annual percentage rates of 200 percent.
The lawsuit is reported to allege that the companies violated Minnesota lending laws by making loans to Minnesota borrowers without being licensed as a lender and sought to evade Minnesota law by falsely characterizing the transactions as pension “purchase agreements” rather than loans.
In February 2017, the CFPB and the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit in which they alleged that a litigation settlement advance product offered by the defendant was a usurious loan that was deceptively marketed as an assignment. In August 2015, the CFPB and the New York Department of Financial Services filed a lawsuit against two pension advance companies in which the CFPB and NYDFS made similar allegations regarding the advances made by the companies.
The Minnesota AG’s lawsuit and the CFPB/NY lawsuits not only indicate that pension advance companies and litigation funding companies have become targets of regulatory enforcement actions, but also suggest that merchant cash advance providers and other finance companies whose products are structured as purchases rather than loans could face heightened scrutiny from state and federal regulators.