Global: FTC Highlights Enforcement Actions Related to Financial Abuses

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) undertook enforcement actions around automobile purchasing and financing, payday lending, and credit repair and debt relief in 2022.

The agency highlighted some of these actions in its annual report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that details its activities regarding financial acts, the FTC said in a Wednesday (June 7) press release.

In the automobile purchasing and financing field, the FTC spotlighted its $9.8 million settlement with Illinois-based dealership group Napleton. The FTC had charged the group with charging consumers “junk fees” for unwanted add-ons like payment insurance and paint protection, and with failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the terms of repayment or annual percentage rate (APR) when advertising “$90 down.”

In a payday lending case, the FTC noted a $970,000 refund mailing resulting from its case against Harvest Moon Financial. The agency had charged the firm with overcharging consumers, deceiving them about the terms of loans, failing to make required loan disclosures and making unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ checking accounts.

A credit repair and debt relief case highlighted by the agency included an $822,000 refund mailing following an action against a student loan debt relief scheme called Student Advocates Team. The FTC charged that this scheme made false promises to consumers, illegally imposed upfront fees for credit repair services and failed to make required loan disclosures when signing up consumers for loans to pay the fees.

In its first case against a company charged with violating the Military Lending Act, together with other acts, the FTC and 18 state partners reached a $10.9 million settlement with Harris Jewelry. The case charged the firm with several illegal financing and sales practices that targeted military families.

The release of this report comes a day after the FTC issued another annual report in which the agency said it returned $392 million to consumers in 2022 after recovering the money in law enforcement actions.

About $248 million of those returns came from cases in which the FTC sent the first distribution payments in that year, with the remainder being additional distributions from earlier cases, the agency said in its “2022 FTC Annual Report on Refunds to Consumers.”

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