On September 16, the CFPB filed a civil action against a for-profit college for allegedly engaging in an “illegal predatory lending scheme.” Specifically, the CFPB alleges that the school engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by: (i) inducing enrollment through false and misleading representations about job placement and career opportunities; (ii) inflating tuition to require students to obtain private loans in addition to Title IV aid; (iii) persuading students to incur significant debt through private loans that had substantially high interest rates (as compared to federal loans) and required repayment while students attended school; (iv) misleading students to believe that the school did not have an interest in the private loans offered; and (v) knowing its students were likely to default on the private loans made. In addition, the CFPB alleges that the school violated the FDCPA by taking aggressive and unfair action, including pulling students out of class, blocking computer access, preventing class registration, and withholding participation in graduation, to collect payments on the private loans as soon as they became past due. The CFPB is seeking to permanently enjoin the school from engaging in the alleged activity, restitution and damages to consumers, disgorgement, rescission of all private loans originated since July 21, 2011, civil money penalties, and costs and other monetary relief.
The CFPB’s lawsuit was filed after a similar action was filed against the school by the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) alleging that the school engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices by: (i) aggressively enrolling students by misrepresenting, among other things, employment and career opportunities, the nature and quality of the education provided, credit transferability, the utility of its career services, and its financial aid; (ii) recruiting students that would not benefit from the programs and/or were legally unable to obtain employment in the field studied; (iii) offering private loans that were guaranteed and/or funded by the school and steering students to such loans; and (iv) engaging in harassing debt collection practices. The Massachusetts AG is seeking to permanently enjoin the school from engaging in the alleged conduct, restitution to students, civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees and other monetary relief.