CFPB Penalizes Mortgage Companies for Marketing Practices

On February 12, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it had filed a complaint against one mortgage company, All Financial Services, and had entered consent orders against two others, Flagship Financial Group and American Preferred Lending, based on claims that the companies had deceptively implied that they were affiliated with the United States government.

The complaint against All Financial Services was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and the consent orders against Flagship Financial and American Preferred Lending were entered by the CFPB. Under the consent orders, Flagship and American Preferred each will pay $225,000 and $85,000, respectively.

The action by the CFPB resulted from a “sweep” of lending advertising conducted in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission. The sweep involved a survey of consumer complaints as well as 800 randomly selected advertisements by lenders.

In the news release announcing the actions, CFPB Director Richard Cordray emphasized that the Bureau was focused particularly on deceptive practices in mailings to older consumers, and specifically on mailings regarding reverse mortgages.

The CFPB alleged that headers that appeared on mailings – “GOVERNMENT LENDING DIVISION” and “Housing Recovery Act of 2008 Eligibility Notice” – were deceptive. The CFPB also cited a mailing that included a logo with an eagle, resembling the official United States seal. The Bureau also alleged that the companies had not disclosed certain terms in their marketing materials.