Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH INTERNET LENDER ADVANCE FINANCIAL
~ Settlement provides over $1.2 million in total relief to approximately 1,500 consumers as a result of the company's alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that his office has reached a settlement with a Nashville-based open-end credit plan internet lender, Shiva Finance, LLC d/b/a Advance Financial 24/7 ("Advance Financial”). Advance Financial has agreed, as part of the settlement, to provide restitution to approximately 1,500 consumers as a result of the company's alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). Under the terms of the settlement, over $1.2 million in total relief will be provided to approximately 1,500 Virginia consumers.
Advance Financial offers short-term loans with periodic interest rates as high as 360% to Virginians in the form of open-end cash advances. During the period from October 2017 through January 20, 2020, Advance Financial's contract with Virginia consumers included a clause which required all parties to either participate in binding arbitration or file suit in a small claims court to resolve all disputes. Advance Financial then proceeded to file nearly 2,000 collection cases in general district courts throughout the Commonwealth with an attorney, rather than in small claims courts. The settlement resolves allegations that this conduct violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by misrepresenting the forum through which Advance Financial would resolve consumer disputes.
"This kind of online lender that uses predatory practices to take advantage of Virginia consumers by charging extremely high interest rates and violating contracts must be held accountable,” said Attorney General Herring. "I'm glad we were able to achieve a result that provides much needed relief for consumers, especially during a time that has created significant financial strain on many Virginia families. I want to thank my Predatory Lending Unit for all their hard work and commitment to protecting consumers and investigating predatory lenders to make sure they are complying with Virginia law.”
The settlement provides relief to consumers against whom Advance Financial obtained judgments in a Virginia general district court on or before February 1, 2020, including (1) restitution through a combination of credits to accounts and cash payments which total approximately $359,000; and (2) credits of attorney's fees and costs awarded as part of the judgments, which total in excess of $830,000. Advance Financial has also agreed to pay civil penalties in the amount of $10,000 and attorney's fees in the amount of $10,000, and agreed to a permanent injunction preventing Advance Financial from violating the VCPA.
The Office of the Attorney General will be monitoring Advance Financial's compliance with the settlement to make sure it is being administered properly. Consumers who have questions about the settlement may contact Advance Financial directly.
The settlement is in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed for approval with the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond.
This matter was handled by the Predatory Lending Unit of Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section. In 2016, Attorney General Herring announced the completion of a reorganization of the Consumer Protection Section to more efficiently and effectively enforce Virginia's consumer protection laws, provide exceptional customer service in resolving complaints and disputes, and provide robust consumer education to keep Virginians from being victimized by fraud, scams, or illegal or abusive business practices. During Attorney General Herring's administration, the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $334 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.
This year, Attorney General Herring supported two bills (House Bill 789 Delegate Lamont Bagby and Senate Bill 421 Senator Mamie Locke) that were passed by the General Assembly that will enact comprehensive predatory lending reforms in Virginia. The legislation tightens the rules on exploitative predatory lenders and closes easily abused loopholes, including that involving open-end credit plan lenders, so that Virginia borrowers are afforded protections regardless of the type of loan they seek. It will also give Attorney General Herring's Predatory Lending Unit more tools to enforce these new protections and better combat predatory lenders operating in the Commonwealth. These bills will go into effect January 2021 after Attorney General Herring asked Governor Northam to move the effective date earlier citing the need to better protect Virginians during these difficult financial times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- By email:
- Online Complaint Form
- Online Contact Form
# # #