WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced it issued an administrative complaint against a marketer pushing a program involving dealership and potential pandemic stimulus benefits.
And this week over at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, officials said they will provide an additional 60 days for public comment on its request for information on how best to create a regulatory environment that expands access to credit and ensures that all consumers and communities are protected from discrimination in all aspects of a credit transaction.
The FTC action involved Traffic Jam Events and its owner, David Jeansonne II, charging multiple counts of deceptive conduct. The FTC explained administrative complaint mirrors a prior federal court complaint, which the regulator said it voluntarily dismissed to pursue a broader administrative proceeding.
The administrative complaint alleged that the marketing agency deceived consumers with mailers supposedly directing them to obtain federal COVID-19 stimulus benefits. The complaint also alleged that, in addition to the misleading COVID-19 mailers, the company sent flyers to consumers containing matching numbers indicating that consumers had won a valuable prize.
The FTC said consumers were then told they had to go to a dealership to “claim” the prize, but the small print on the back of the mailer revealed that there was only a 1-in-52,000 chance the consumer had actually won the prize specified.
In addition to FTC Act violations alleged related to the COVID-19 and prize mailers, the FTC’s complaint claimed the respondents violated the Truth In Lending Act and Regulation Z for failing to clearly disclose required credit information in their advertising.
The FTC vote to issue the administrative complaint and dismiss the federal proceeding was 4-0-1, with commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter recorded as not participating.
The FTC reiterated that it issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.
“The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge,” officials said.
Update on CFPB project
Earlier this summer, the CFPB issued a request for information to seek public input on how best to create a regulatory environment that expands access to credit and ensures that all consumers and communities are protected from discrimination in all aspects of a credit transaction.
The bureau reiterated that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B make it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age; because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program; or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
The original deadline for submissions was Oct. 2. The comment period will now close on Dec. 1.
“The information provided will help the bureau continue to explore ways to address regulatory compliance challenges while fulfilling the bureau’s core mission to prevent unlawful discrimination and foster innovation,” officials said in a news release.
The CFPB added the RFI is in lieu of a symposium the bureau had planned to host on ECOA issues this fall.
To read the RFI, go to this website.