On February 10, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the North Carolina Attorney General announced a settlement against two “buy here, pay here” used car dealerships and the companies’ presidents. The settlement resolves allegations under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, its implementing regulation (Regulation B), the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and the North Carolina Uniform Commercial Code, that the companies engaged in “reverse redlining” by allegedly targeting African American borrowers for used car loans using unfair and predatory terms.
The love affair continues between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and enforcement under Section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”). On February 10, 2015, the CFPB announced a consent order with NewDay Financial, LLC (“NewDay” or the “Company”) involving alleged violations of the referral fee prohibitions under Section 8 of RESPA and deceptive marketing practices. Specifically, the CFPB alleges that NewDay paid “lead generation” fees to an unnamed veterans’ organization and a third-party company for the endorsement of the Company and referral of the organization’s veteran members to NewDay for mortgage financing. While the Company neither admitted nor denied the CFPB’s findings, the CFPB assessed a $2 million civil money penalty under the consent order. The facts as described in the consent order do not involve a typical marketing services agreement or lead generation agreement, but the consent order makes clear that endorsements of a company expressed through direct mail and email advertisements are considered to be referrals by the CFPB.
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