The CFPB filed a complaint last week in a California federal district court against several companies and individuals involved in offering student loan debt relief services for allegedly obtaining consumer reports unlawfully, charging unlawful advance fees, and engaging in deceptive conduct. (Several companies and individuals are named only as “relief defendants” for having allegedly received funds traceable to the other defendants’ alleged violations.)
The Bureau alleges that the defendants obtained consumer reports in the form of prescreened lists on the pretense that they planned to use the reports to offer mortgage loans to consumers when, in fact, they used the reports to market debt relief services. The Bureau claims that the use of prescreened lists to market such services was not a permissible purpose and therefore violated the FCRA prohibition on obtaining a consumer report without a permissible purpose.
The Bureau also alleges that the defendants engaged in or substantially assisted the following additional violations:
- Violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) based on misrepresenting that by consolidating their loans, consumers would obtain interest rate reductions, their credit scores would improve, and the Department of Education would become their new servicer.
- Violations of the TSR based on obtaining advance fees before the defendants had adjusted to terms of customers’ student loans and customers had made any payments toward their adjusted loans.
- Violations of the CFPA based on the alleged FCRA and TSR violations.
The Bureau’s complaint seeks an injunction against the defendants, as well as damages, consumer redress, disgorgement, and civil money penalties.