Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING OBTAINS FULL RESTITUTION FOR CUSTOMERS OF ONLINE LENDER
~ Eight affiliated lenders and debt collectors agree to provide refunds, debt forgiveness, civil penalties and attorneys' fees totaling more than $250,000 ~
RICHMOND (February 23, 2018) -Attorney General Mark Herring announced today that his office has reached a settlement with eight affiliated online lenders and debt collectors to resolve allegations that the companies offered unlawful open-ended credit plan loans and engaged in unlawful debt collection practices including contacting borrowers' employers and implementing wage garnishments. As a result of the settlement, borrowers will receive nearly $150,000 in restitution and forgiven debt.
"Virginia's open-end credit statute is being exploited by more and more lenders, especially online lenders, to provide extremely expensive loans to Virginians. Open-end credit plan loans are particularly troublesome because they can trap consumers in a cycle of debt that can take years and thousands of dollars to break," said Attorney General Herring. "Consumers should be wary of these loans, particularly when the terms allow for aggressive debt collection tactics like wage garnishments. My Predatory Lending Unit will continue to aggressively pursue lenders who do not comply with our laws, because their tactics hurt financially vulnerable Virginians who can least afford it."
The settlement includes the following key terms relating to loans made by the lenders during the period from January 2015 through June 19, 2017:
- The Lenders agree to refund all interest and fees paid by consumers in excess of 12% of the loan amount, totaling approximately $85,000;
- The Lenders agree to forgive all outstanding remaining debt of Virginia consumers, totaling over $63,000;
- The Lenders agree to a permanent injunction against consumer lending activity in Virginia;
- The Debt Collectors agree to a permanent injunction against all debt collection activity in Virginia;
- The Lenders agree to pay $10,000 in civil penalties and $10,000 in attorneys' fees;
- The Debt Collectors agree to pay $75,000 in civil penalties and $10,000 in attorneys' fees.
The companies involved in this matter all operate under the common interest and control of two individuals and are based in Wood Dale, Illinois. The companies include six lenders (Field Asset Service Team, LLC; VIM Holdings, LLC; MR Capital Group, LLC; Nascent Holdings, LLC; B Financial, LLC; and DTS Capital, LLC, collectively "the Lenders") and two debt collectors (Bradley Goldberg & Miller, LLC and U Solutions Group, LLC, "the Debt Collectors") that acted in concert to provide and collect open-end credit plan loans made over the Internet to Virginia consumers.
The Lenders offered open-end credit plan loans and imposed "service fees" as high as $160 per month. The Debt Collectors then emailed consumers in an effort to collect on these loans and contacted the consumers' employers to implement wage assignments and collect money directly from the consumers' paychecks. At the request of the Attorney General's office, the Lenders and Debt Collectors ceased all lending and debt collection activity in Virginia as of June 19, 2017.
The settlement resolves allegations that the Lenders' open-end credit plan loans violated Virginia consumer finance statutes and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act ("VCPA") by imposing illegal charges on borrowers during the required finance-charge-free grace period and by misrepresenting that the loans were legal and permissible. It also resolves allegations that the Debt Collectors violated the VCPA by implementing illegal wage assignments and by misrepresenting that that these loan debts were valid.
The Office of the Attorney General will be monitoring the Lenders' and Debt Collectors' compliance with the settlement to make sure it is being administered properly. Consumers who have questions about the settlement may contact the representative of these companies directly at (877) 822-1064.
The settlement is in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance which was approved by the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond on February 7, 2018.
This matter was handled by the Predatory Lending Unit of Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section. During Attorney General Herring's administration, the Consumer Protection Section has undergone a significant reorganization and expansion and recovered more than $240 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
- Online Contact Form/Online Complaint Form
# # #