It certainly looks like CFPB enforcement staff did not take a summer vacation in July. In fact, last month the CFPB was as busy as ever solidifying its use of its UDAAP authority. The Bureau continues to hone its skills with predictable results.
Last month alone, the CFPB announced a series of seven actions and proposed settlements with a variety of creditors and service providers throughout the spectrum of the consumer finance industry.
Early in the month, the CFPB announced actions against Affinion Group Holdings, Inc. and Intersections, Inc. for unfairly charging consumers for credit card add-on benefits not received and for misleading consumers about the benefits charged. According to the CFPB’s press release, under the proposed consent orders, “Affinion would pay approximately $6.8 million in monetary relief for eligible consumers who have not yet received refunds and $1.9 million in civil money penalties, while Intersections would pay approximately $55,000 in monetary relief to eligible consumers who have not yet received refunds and $1.2 million in civil money penalties.” This settlement is similar to that entered into by Regions Bank earlier this year.
Then, in mid-July, the CFPB along with the Department of Justice reached a resolution with American Honda Finance Corporation that addressed alleged discriminatory auto loan pricing. Honda’s policies resulted in thousands of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander borrowers paying higher interest rates than white borrowers for their auto loans, without regard to their creditworthiness. As a part of the settlement, the CFPB announced that “Honda will change its pricing and compensation system to substantially reduce dealer discretion and minimize the risks of discrimination.” Honda has also agreed to pay affected minority applicants whose auto loans were financed by Honda between January 2011 and July 14, 2015, $24 million in direct restitution.
Fresh from its resolution with Honda, and less than one week later, the CFPB ordered Citibank, N.A. to pay $700 million in consumer relief for its alleged deceptive marketing and unfair billing practices in connection with its credit card add-on products and services, and unfair billing practices. The CFPB reached back to 2003, in alleging that Citibank enrolled approximately 7 million consumers in five debt protection add-on products that were misrepresented as to cost and fees for coverage, benefits and eligibility. The unfair billing practices included charging approximately 2.2 million consumers for benefits not received.
Student loan servicing took the spotlight on July 22nd and July 23rd with the CFPB’s actions and proposed settlements filed against Discover Bank and its student loan affiliates, and against Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. for illegal private student loan servicing practices. These student loan servicing actions affect over 100,000 consumers and total relief of approximately $24 million.
And, July ended with CFPB announcements of settlements of actions against mortgage servicers Paymap, Inc. and LoanCare, LLC for deceptive advertising promising interest savings, and mortgage company Residential Credit Solutions, Inc. for failing to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers. These actions include relief of approximately $35 million.
All in all, July was not a bad month’s payday for the CFPB.