Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

BCFP Settles with Online Retailer Over Allegedly Untimely Transfers of Consumer Payments to Third-Party Debt Buyers

  • The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“BCFP”) reached a settlement with online retailers Bluestem Brands, Inc., Bluestem Enterprises, Inc., and Bluestem Sales, Inc. (collectively, “Bluestem”) to resolve allegations that they violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by failing to timely forward consumer payments on accounts that had been sold to third-party debt buyers.
  • According to the BCFP, Bluestem allegedly failed to timely forward payments received from consumers whose debts had previously been sold to third-party debt buyers to the debt buyers, subjecting many consumers to potentially wrongful collection activity.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, Bluestem must, among other requirements, improve its policies and procedures related to acceptance of client payments on sold accounts, identify and forward consumer payments to debt buyers in a timely manner, notify consumers whose accounts have been sold, submit a compliance plan to the BCFP, and pay a civil monetary penalty of $200,000.

Consumer Protection

Bipartisan Coalition of 34 State AGs Submits Comments Urging the Federal Communications Commission to Adopt Illegal Robocall Blocking Rules

  • A bipartisan coalition of 34 state AGs led by Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro filed comments in response to a public notice issued by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) urging the FCC to adopt rules that would expand telephone service providers’ ability to block certain types of illegal robocalls.
  • According to the AGs’ comments, the FCC’s 2017 Call Blocking Order (“2017 Order”) permits telephone service providers to block certain types of illegal robocalls, including “spoofed” calls—calls designed to disguise the identity of the caller—but the rate of illegal robocalls has continued to increase due to robocallers’ ability to evade the blocking provisions of the 2017 Order through widespread availability of inexpensive robocalling technology.
  • The AGs urge the FCC to expand upon the 2017 Order by adopting new rules authorizing telephone service providers to authenticate legitimate calls and identify and block various types of illegal robocalls before they reach consumers.

Massachusetts Attorney General Obtains Judgment Against Home Improvement Contractor Over Alleged Consumer Protection Violations

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey secured a judgment against home improvement contractor Richard Rolon d/b/a The Design Consultants (“Rolon”) over allegations he allegedly violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and Home Improvement Contractor Act by accepting deposits from consumers without performing or completing the work for which he was retained.
  • According to the AG’s office, Rolon allegedly accepted large advance deposits and payments from consumers for home improvement projects and promised to manage, oversee, and provide materials and labor for the projects, but in many cases failed to complete the work, did not issue refunds, and did not compensate some consumers for alleged damage to their properties.
  • According to the AG’s announcement, Rolon has been ordered to pay nearly $490,000 in consumer restitution and civil penalties and will be permanently debarred from operating as a home improvement contractor in the state.

Environment

12 Republican Attorneys General File Amicus Brief Seeking Dismissal of Lawsuit Targeting Fossil Fuel Companies

  • 12 Republican AGs led by Indiana AG Curtis Hill filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in support of fossil fuel companies’ motion to dismiss in the matter of King County v. BP P.L.C., No. 2:18-CV-00758RSL.
  • In their brief, the AGs argue, among other things, that the lawsuit should be dismissed because King County’s claims raise non-justiciable political questions on issues such as global climate change and the proper balance of regulatory and commercial activity, threaten interstate commerce and basic principles of federalism, and rely on common law causes of action that have been precluded by analogous federal statutes.
  • As previously reported, in April 2018 AG Hill led a coalition of 15 Republican AGs that filed a similar amicus brief in a case brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The motion to dismiss in that case was granted, and the cities have noted their appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Bipartisan Coalition of 21 AGs and Governors Files Amicus Brief Asking U.S. Supreme Court to Resolve Circuit Split Over Application of the Clean Water Act to Alleged Pollutant Discharges that Pass Through Groundwater

  • A bipartisan coalition of 21 state AGs and governors led by West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P., et al. v. Upstate Forever, et al., No. 18-268, asking the Court to grant certiorari and reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s ruling that the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) applies to discharges of pollutants into groundwater that may eventually migrate into navigable waterways covered by the CWA.
  • According to the brief, the Fourth Circuit’s holding that the CWA applies not only to discharges into navigable waterways, but also to discharges into groundwater that may eventually migrate into navigable waterways dramatically expands the federal government’s regulatory authority over intrastate water resources and thwarts Congress’s intent to leave primary authority over such resources to the states.
  • The AGs urge the Supreme Court to reverse the Fourth Circuit’s holding and resolve the growing circuit split over the proper application of the CWA to discharges into groundwater that migrate to navigable waterways.