Operation Choke: 10 Civil Investigations Opened

Operation Choke Point continues to create controversy. Legitimate businesses are being attacked by the Obama administration. Having experienced difficulty in shutting down small dollar credit lenders directly, the administration is targeting vendors and processors who “enable” lenders to serve their customers.

By Alan Zibel and Andrew R. Johnson
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened at least 10 civil and criminal investigations into whether banks and payment processing firms helped enable fraudulent activity, according to an internal Justice Department memo viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

More than 850 pages of internal documents on the DOJ’s probe of alleged fraud in the financial industry were obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The panel has been conducting an inquiry into the federal probe known as “Operation Choke Point,” which is aimed at reducing the ability of fraudulent businesses to operate by going after financial firms–like banks and payment processors–that help move their money.

The memos viewed by the Journal detail last year’s launch of the sweeping probe, which resulted in the government issuing subpoenas to about 50 banks and six payment processing firms, according to a November 2013 memo by DOJ official Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong.

Ms. Frimpong, in her memo, wrote that the government had the opened civil investigations into 10 banks and payment processors and was in settlement talks with three of them.

The DOJ has also opened criminal investigations of four payment-processing firms as well as one criminal investigation of a bank “and responsible bank officials.”

The names of affected banks were… Read More.

To have these timely Posts delivered to your inbox, sign up below. Spam is for jerks! We are not jerks!!

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

Payday Loan and Collections CFPB Report: $70M Refunds to 775,000 Borrowers

6 Key Players in the Payday Loan Debate

The 6 PDL Players


Overall CFPB Supervision Activities Return More than $70 Million to 775,000 Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a report highlighting illegal actions uncovered by the Bureau’s supervision of the payday, debt collection, and consumer reporting markets. These markets are being federally supervised for the first time. The report also notes that recent non-public CFPB supervisory activities overall have resulted in more than $70 million in remediation to approximately 775,000 consumers.

“For the first time at the federal level, nonbank financial institutions are subject to supervisory oversight that holds them accountable for how they treat consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The CFPB’s oversight of banks and nonbanks alike is exposing risky practices and getting results for consumers. We are pleased that our supervision program has been able to return more than $70 million to consumers in recent months.”

Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act), the CFPB has authority to supervise certain nonbanks, including mortgage companies, private student lenders, and payday lenders, as well as nonbanks the Bureau defines through rulemaking as “larger participants.” To date, the Bureau has issued rules to supervise the larger participants in the debt collection, consumer reporting, and student loan servicing markets.

The CFPB often finds problems during supervisory examinations that are resolved without an enforcement action. Recent non-public supervisory actions and self-reported violations at banks and nonbanks resulted in more than $70 million in remediation to approximately 775,000 consumers. These non-public actions have occurred in areas such as deposits, consumer reporting, credit cards, mortgage origination, and mortgage servicing.

[Note: Payday loan financial product substitutes are rendering traditional payday loans moot. Workplace advances – partnering with employers, apps, debit and prepaid cards, remote checks, eChecks, small business loans…]


Today’s report generally covers supervisory activities between November 2013 and February 2014. In the three nonbank markets highlighted in today’s report, examiners found that many companies had systemic flaws in their compliance management systems, such as consistently failing to have a system in place to track and resolve consumer complaints. The CFPB expects companies to respond to customer complaints and identify major issues and trends that may pose broader risks to their customers. Examiners also identified additional problem areas within each specific market.


Payday Lending

Payday loans are frequently described as a way for consumers to bridge a cash flow shortage between paychecks or the receipt of other income. Payday loans often have small-dollar amounts, require borrowers to repay quickly, and ask that a borrower give lenders access to repayment through a claim on the borrower’s deposit account. The problems that CFPB examiners found in the payday market include:


  • · Lenders deceiving consumers to collect debt: When payday lenders called borrowers to collect debt, they sometimes threatened to take legal actions they did not actually intend to pursue. Examiners cited these threats as unlawful deceptive practices. Other lenders threatened to impose additional fees or to debit borrowers’ accounts at any time, when this was not allowed by their contract. Examiners also found lenders lied about non-existent promotions to induce borrowers to call back about their debt.


  • · Lenders illegally harassing borrowers and visiting consumers at work: CFPB examiners found that payday lenders called borrowers multiple times per day. When lenders failed to accurately track how many times they had called a borrower, it increased the risk of a borrower receiving excessive calls. Examiners also found that employees of payday lenders would sometimes visit borrowers’ workplaces in attempts to collect debt. Such practices by lenders can violate the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition on unfair practices.


  • · Lenders hiring third-party collectors that illegally deceive and harass consumers: Many payday lenders hire third parties to collect their debts. The CFPB expects payday lenders – and all institutions subject to its supervision – to oversee their service providers to ensure they are complying with federal law. Examiners found that third-party debt collectors misled borrowers in a variety of ways, including falsely claiming to be an attorney and making false threats of criminal prosecution. Third-party collectors also harassed borrowers by calling at unusual times.


Debt Collection

Debt collection practices have long been a source of frustration for many consumers. The practices have generated a heavy volume of consumer complaints at all levels of government, including at the CFPB. It is estimated that there are more than 4,500 debt collection firms in the United States. The problems that CFPB examiners found in this market include:


  • · Debt collectors intentionally and illegally misleading consumers about litigation: Examiners found that debt collectors violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by filing lawsuits, which implied that they intended to prove their claims, when they had no such plans. The collectors typically dismissed the suits if consumers answered them because they were then unable to produce the documents to support their claims.


  • · Debt collectors making excessive, illegal calls to consumers: Examiners found that one debt collector had made approximately 17,000 calls to consumers outside of the appropriate times established by the FDCPA. That company further violated the law by repeatedly contacting more than 1,000 consumers as often as 20 times within two days.


  • · Debt collectors failing to investigate consumer credit report disputes: Debt collectors often furnish information to consumer reporting agencies, which use it when compiling consumers’ credit reports. Debt collectors generally must investigate when a consumer disputes information they have sent to a consumer reporting agency. Examiners found evidence that a debt collector was deleting disputed accounts rather than investigating such disputes, and examiners directed this collector to investigate disputes it receives regarding information it furnished.


Consumer Reporting Agencies

The Bureau also discovered problems at consumer reporting agencies. These agencies include companies that are popularly called credit bureaus or credit reporting companies. CFPB examiners found that certain agencies were not properly handling consumer credit report dispute documents. Consumer reporting agencies are generally required to forward relevant dispute documents to data furnishers. Examiners also found that some agencies were encouraging consumers to file disputes online or by telephone, but then refused to accept such disputes from some consumers.


Today’s report aims to share information that all industry participants can use to ensure their operations remain in compliance with federal consumer financial law. In all cases where CFPB examiners find problems, they alert the company to their concerns and outline necessary remedial measures. When appropriate, the CFPB opens investigations for potential enforcement actions.


CFPB’s Supervisory Highlights report is available at:

To have these timely Posts delivered to your inbox, sign up below. Spam is for jerks! We are not jerks!!

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

Car Title Loans: Multi-Payment versus Single Payment

Car title lenders have begun making car title loans structured as multi-payment rather than single-payment loans. Some examples:

In Texas, according to the OCCC, in the third quarter of 2013 more than 20% of borrowers refinanced their car title loan in the same quarter the loan was made.

In Virginia, there is a minimum loan term of 120 days with loans repayable in installments. In 2012, the average loan term for Virginia car title loans was 339 days, and the average APR was 229%. In 2012, 20% of Virginia car title loan borrowers failed to make a monthly payment on their car title loan for at least 60 days and 9.8% of these borrowers had their car repossessed (13,007 cars repossessed out of 132,691 borrowers).

To have these timely Posts delivered to your inbox, sign up below. Spam is for jerks! We are not jerks!!

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

Employer Sponsored Workplace Cash Advances

It’s a fact: 40+ million U.S consumers are underbanked! Stats are all over the map but approximately 65% of consumers can’t lay their hands on $1000 to meet an emergency. These folks need, want and demand access to cash. Someone has to develop alternative, transparent, financial products. Not only must innovative financial products be developed but additionally, these financial services must be introduced by forward thinking financial institutions and entrepreneurs who can achieve “scale.”

Employers are on the front lines. If anyone recognizes the need for fairly priced, emergency access to cash “loans” it’s employers. How often do your employees request a loan or a paycheck advance? If you have a sizeable workforce, the answer is daily. Employers witness first hand the emotional stress their people experience when faced with financial stress.

The typical U.S. consumer is experiencing flat wages and a rising cost of living. Hit with a single emergency such as broken down transportation or a sudden medical issue – sometimes as simple as getting a prescription filled – their financial stress surfaces in their workplace. Traditional bank products just don’t work any longer for millions of workers.

One solution? Employer sponsored “Workplace Advances.” Workplace advances enable an employee to access up to 50% of their earned wages in anticipation of their paycheck at SUBSTANTIALLY lower rates than those offered by payday loan companies; we’re talking $1.50 fee for $20 advances. The “killer app” is the fact that neither the lender nor the employer require a lending license [it is NOT a credit or a loan], nor does the lender need a collections department, and these workplace advances experience ZERO defaults.

How are small dollar advances offered to employees for $7.50 per $100?

Read More: Employer Sponsored Workplace Advances.
To have these timely Posts delivered to your inbox, sign up below. Spam is for jerks! We are not jerks!!

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

Operation Choke Point: In the News Again reports:


“The United States Consumer Coalition (USCC) is preparing to launch a $3- 5 million campaign to fight the Obama administration’s “Operation Choke Point,” a joint Justice Department, FDIC, and Treasury initiative that targets third-party payment processors who are considered “high-risk merchants,” including payday lenders.”Continue Reading..