Charities

Arkansas Attorney General Settles with Veterans Charity for Allegedly Misleading Donors

  • Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge reached a settlement with the Children of Veterans Foundation, Give Back to Freedom, LLC, and its owners to resolve allegations that they violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by misrepresenting that they were engaged in charity work benefiting the children of veterans when soliciting donations.
  • According to the AG’s office, the Children of Veterans Foundation allegedly set up at least ten collection bins in Arkansas parking lots, claiming that all clothes and shoes donated would be given to “those who protect our freedom,” when in actuality, the donations were diverted to the for-profit Give Back to Freedom, which was owned by and financially benefited the directors of the foundation. Additionally, the foundation and for-profit company allegedly failed to register as charities or paid solicitors with the AG’s office as required by state law.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, the foundation must pay $5,000 to the state to cover the cost of the investigation and prosecution, and both the foundation and for-profit company must cease any operations and solicitations in Arkansas.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CFPB Settles with Bank for Allegedly Opening Unauthorized Accounts

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), acting in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and the City and County of Los Angeles, reached a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., (“Wells Fargo”) to resolve allegations that the bank violated, among other laws, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, as well as engaged in unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent sales under the California Business & Professions Code.
  • According to the CFPB, OCC, and the City and County of Los Angeles, Wells Fargo employees allegedly attempted to reach sales targets and earn bonuses by opening over 1.5 million deposit accounts that were not authorized by consumers and applying for credit cards on their behalf. These transactions allegedly caused consumers to incur overdraft charges and other fees.
  • Under the terms of the CFPB consent order, Wells Fargo must refund consumers at least $2.5 million to cover fees improperly charged since 2011, hire an independent consultant to review the bank’s procedures, and pay $100 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. Wells Fargo will also pay a $35 million civil penalty to the OCC and a $50 million civil penalty to the City and County of Los Angeles.

CFPB Settles with For-Profit College Over Alleged Misleading Student Loan Monthly Payment Amounts

  • The CFPB reached a settlement with Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (“Bridgepoint”), to resolve allegations that the for-profit college chain violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act with respect to its representations regarding private student loans.
  • According to the CFPB, Bridgepoint allegedly misled certain students taking out private student loans by orally providing students with the incorrect monthly repayment amount, which obligated them to make larger monthly payments than initially stated.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, Bridgepoint must pay $23.5 million in refunds to consumers, pay an $8 million penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund, and among other things, remove negative loan information from borrowers’ credit reports.

Consumer Protection

Iowa Attorney General Settles with Dietary Supplement Manufacturer Over Allegedly Misleading Advertisements

  • Iowa AG Tom Miller reached a settlement with Independent Nutraceuticals Inc. and its owners to resolve allegations that manufacturers of the dietary supplement “Bladder Control” violated Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act by making deceptive claims regarding the supplement to consumers.
  • According to the AG’s office, Independent Nutraceuticals advertised its “Bladder Control” supplement as having widespread success in treating bladder problems without substantiation and using deceptive or false statements, and claimed the product was “FDA approved” and “patented” when it was not.
  • Under the terms of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, Independent Nutraceuticals must pay $20,479.92 to refund consumers who purchased “Bladder Control,” pay $10,000 to the Older Iowans Fund, and end its marketing in Iowa, among other things.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Sues Personal Care Home Over Alleged Failure to Provide Refunds

  • Pennsylvania AG Bruce Beemer filed suit against a personal care home, Meadowview Manor Services, LLC, and its owners (collectively “Meadowview Manor”), over allegations that the facility violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ regulations with respect to its refund practices.
  • According to the AG’s office, Meadowview Manor allegedly failed to provide proper refunds to residents, misrepresented the facility’s refund policy, and failed to keep the facility in a safe, sanitary, and habitable condition. The facility was forced to close and relocate its residents due to building safety concerns, but residents allegedly were never given refunds for room and board payments, as required under their contracts with Meadowview Manor and Department of Human Services’ regulations.
  • The suit seeks restitution for residents, as well as civil penalties in the amount of $1,000 per violation against consumers and $3,000 per violation affecting consumers sixty and older.

Data Privacy

16 Attorneys General Weigh in on FCC Privacy Rules for Broadband Internet Service Providers

  • 16 AGs, led by Michigan AG Bill Schuette, wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regarding the FCC’s proposed rulemaking, “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services,” which would regulate how broadband Internet Service Providers can use and share customer data.
  • The AGs’ letter requests that the FCC withdraw the proposed rule and work with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and AGs to foster increased data privacy and consumer protection. The AGs also expressed that the proposed rule could potentially preempt state laws and create an unclear regulatory environment.
  • As we previously reported, the FTC filed comments in June 2016, expressing their general support of the rule, but also urging the FCC to revise the definition of personally identifiable information to include consumer devices and standardize privacy notices, among other things.

Environment

11 Attorneys General File Amicus Brief in Support of Oil and Gas Company

  • 11 AGs, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in support of Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (“Exxon”) petition seeking to bar enforcement of a civil investigative demand (“CID”) brought by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, on which we have reported
  • In the brief, which addresses AG Healey’s subpoena seeking internal company documents related to climate change, the AGs assert that their power should not be used to influence policy debates and should not be used to subpoena various entities in an abusive manner. The AGs contend that AG Healey exceeded her authority under the constitution and ask that the court grant Exxon’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Vermont Attorney General Sues Car Manufacturer Over Alleged Violations of State Environmental Laws

  • Vermont AG Bill Sorrell filed a suit against Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Audi AG, Audi AG of America, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars of America, Inc. (collectively the “VW Group”), over allegations that the VW Group violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act and the Air Pollution Control statutes by using software that manipulated data produced during emissions standards testing.
  • According to the AG’s office, the VW Group allegedly sold diesel vehicles equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants. By doing so, the VW Group allegedly allowed nitrogen oxide emissions to be released into the air at rates exceeding the state’s emissions standards, posing a risk to citizens’ health and the surrounding environment.
  • According to the complaint, the suit seeks, among other things, civil penalties and restitution for consumers who purchased the VW Group’s unlawful vehicles.
  • As we previously reported, Maryland AG Brian Frosh, New York AG Eric Schneiderman, and Massachusetts AG Maura Healey have each filed separate suits against the VW Group asserting similar allegations.