October 16, 2021

Volume XI, Number 289

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CFPB Alleges that Service Provider Helped Credit-Repair Businesses Charge Illegal Fees

On September 20, the CFPB filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a California-based software company and its owner for allegedly violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) by providing substantial assistance or support to credit-repair businesses that use telemarketing and charge unlawful advance fees to consumers.

The company sold credit repair business software and other tools to credit repair companies that then provide services to consumers to remove derogatory information from, or improve, a consumer’s credit history, credit record, or credit rating.  The credit repair companies could use the software and other tools to charge upfront fees to consumers, which is a violation of the TSR. As a result, the CFPB’s complaint alleges violations of the TSR by the software provider based, in part, on the following:

  • Encouraging and advising credit repair companies to use their software to charge consumers at enrollment with subsequent monthly fees, including an FAQ that states charging fees upfront is how all credit repair companies get paid.

  • Providing a billing platform that allows users to charge an upfront fee and encourages users to sign up for this platform.

The CFPB is seeking monetary relief for consumers, disgorgement of unjust gains, injunctive relief, and a civil money penalty.

Putting It Into Practice:  The Dodd-Frank Act made it unlawful for any person to knowingly or recklessly provide substantial assistance to a consumer financial services provider that engages in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.  Further, such substantial assistance is deemed to be in violation of the law to the same extent as the person to whom such assistance is provided. Use of the “substantial assistance” enforcement mechanism is reemerging as a common way for the CFPB to go after parties that might not otherwise appear to have engaged directly in any illegal activity (we previously discussed this latest trend in earlier Consumer Finance & FinTech Blog posts here and here).

Copyright © 2021, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 265
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About this Author

Moorari Shah Bankruptcy Lawyer Sheppard Mullin Law Firm
Partner

Moorari Shah is a partner in the Finance and Bankruptcy Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles and San Francisco offices. 

Areas of Practice

Moorari combines deep in-house and law firm experience to deliver practical, business-minded legal advice. He represents banks, fintechs, mortgage companies, auto lenders, and other nonbank institutions in transactional, licensing, regulatory compliance, and government enforcement matters covering mergers and acquisitions, consumer and commercial lending, equipment finance and leasing, and supervisory examinations,...

213-617-4171
A.J. S. Dhaliwal Bankruptcy Attorney Sheppard Mullin Washington DC
Associate

A.J. is an associate in the Finance and Bankruptcy Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. 

A.J. has over a decade of experience helping banks, non-bank financial institutions, and other companies providing financial products and services in a wide range of matters including government enforcement actions, civil litigation, regulatory examinations, and internal investigations.

With a diversified regulatory, compliance, and enforcement background, A.J. counsels financial institutions in matters involving...

202-747-2323
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