For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SECURES $850,000 IN RESTITUTION FOR VIRGINIA CONSUMERS FROM OPEN-END CREDIT PLAN LENDER
~ Allied Title Lending, LLC agrees to injunction, payment of $850,000 for consumer restitution, and debt forbearance exceeding $10 million benefitting thousands of former customers ~
RICHMOND – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that he has reached a settlement with Allied Title Lending, LLC d/b/a Allied Cash Advance (Allied), an open-end credit plan lender, concerning violations of Virginia's consumer finance statutes.
In addition to providing for a permanent injunction preventing Allied from further violations of Virginia's consumer finance statutes, the settlement requires the company to pay $850,000 that the Commonwealth can use to provide restitution to customers who opened accounts with Allied during the period from September 28, 2013 through July 23, 2017 (the "Relevant Period”), and to pay the Commonwealth $150,000 for reimbursement of its attorneys' fees and settlement administration costs.
The settlement prohibits the company from collecting anything further on thousands of Relevant Period accounts that remain unpaid and that were not converted to a separate loan program in October 2018. The total value of the debt forbearance provided on these accounts exceeds $10 million. For the relatively few Relevant Period accounts that were converted to the separate loan program, the company can collect limited amounts (totaling less than $500,000 in the aggregate).
"Before recent changes to our consumer finance laws became effective earlier this year, many lenders turned to open-end credit lending as a means to impose extremely high interest rates on small dollar loans to financially vulnerable Virginians. I'm glad we were able to successfully encourage the General Assembly last year to change our consumer finance laws, including those applicable to open-end credit lenders, so that we can better protect Virginians,” said Attorney General Herring. "I'm pleased my team and I were able to resolve our claims against Allied in a way that will provide restitution and debt forbearance to thousands of Virginia consumers. My Consumer Protection Section, its Predatory Lending Unit, and I remain committed to doing everything we can to protect Virginians from abusive lending practices.”
The settlement resolves allegations that Allied violated Virginia's consumer finance statutes, including laws applicable to open-end credit lenders, by:
- Charging a $100 origination fee during the statutorily mandated finance charge-free grace period on all loans; and
- Engaging in a pattern of repeat transactions and "rollover” loans with thousands of consumers who were required to close accounts that they paid down to a $0 balance, but permitted to open new accounts on which new fees were charged, on a monthly basis.
Attorney General Herring will be hiring a settlement claims administrator to distribute restitution monies to affected consumers. Consumers who are eligible for restitution should expect to hear from the claims administrator.
During the Relevant Period, in addition to the origination fee imposed on each loan, Allied charged interest on its accounts at the annual rate of 273.75%. In contrast, with the amended open-end credit plan law that became effective on January 1, 2021, open-end credit lenders are limited to charging no more than (1) interest at an annual rate not exceeding 36%; and (2) an annual participation fee not exceeding $50.
The settlement is in the form of a Consent Judgment, which was presented for approval to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond earlier this week and approved today.
Allied operated at various times out of 23 locations in the following localities across Virginia: Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Highland Springs, Lynchburg, Manassas, Mechanicsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, Rocky Mount, Staunton, Tappahannock, and Winchester.
This matter was handled by the Predatory Lending Unit of Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section. The Unit was established as a part of Attorney General Herring's reorganization of his Consumer Protection Section, which now includes a focus on predatory lending in addition to deceptive conduct, antitrust matters, charitable solicitation, and more. During Attorney General Herring's administration, the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section has recovered approximately $356 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.
For additional information on the settlement or to file a complaint about a consumer protection matter, please contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section:
By phone: (800) 552-9963
# # #