Attorney General's Report
The Attorney General's Office is directly involved in stopping illegal lending. Click here to read the Attorney General’s Report (dated April 23, 2014).
Relevant Vermont Laws
Consumer Protection Act provision on “Unlicensed loan transactions” (including payment processors): 9 V.S.A. § 2481w Licensing requirements: 8 V.S.A.§ 2201; 8 V.S.A. § 2233 All lending requirements: Title 8, Chapter 73 Interest rate limits: 9 V.S.A. § 41a
A-1 Premium Budget, Inc. aka “Cash in a Wink” (Delaware online lender)
CashCure, LLC (Delaware online lender)CashCall, Inc. & Western Sky, et al. (California and So. Dakota online lender and servicer)
Refunds to consumers are being mailed around August 1, 2014. Cash Cure borrowers should look for an envelope from the Attorney General’s office.Government Employees Credit Center, Inc.(Delaware online lender) CashCall refunds are now available. Borrowers must fill out a claim form by Sept. 1, 2014. Click here for more information.Sure Advance, LLC (Delaware online lender) Refunds to consumers are being mailed around August 1, 2014. GECC borrowers should look for an envelope from the Attorney General’s office.T Money, LLC (“T-money”; California payment processor) Refunds to consumers are being mailed around August 1, 2014. Sure Advance borrowers should look for an envelope from the Attorney General’s office.Intercept Corporation (North Dakota payment processor) As of July 2014, refunds to consumers are being processed, either via electronic debits or mailings with a refund check.
Update: As of January 2015, the Attorney General's Office has obtained approximately $1,084,000 in refunds to 2,836 Vermont Consumers and $165,000 in payments to the State, as a result of the above Settlements.
Cease and Desist Letters
Letter to 81 known illegal lenders: demanding compliance with VT law List of all known illegal lenders and contact information
In cooperation with other states, Vermont has begun compiling a larger, ongoing list of all known lenders who have not complied with the law of at least one state. This list will be used for further regulatory and consumer protection efforts, including sending to Google and Microsoft, as described further below.
Advisory Letter and Requests for Assistance Letter to Vermont Association of Broadcasters
VAB has posted Vermont’s letter online for its members, and will keep members informed regarding the issues raised by the Attorney General’s Office.
Comcast confirmed that it does not host ads for any of the unlicensed lenders identified in Vermont, and would continue to prevent advertising for future unlicensed lenders identified by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.
DISH confirmed that it does not currently host ads for any of the unlicensed lenders identified in Vermont.
DirecTV does not provide advertising for lenders identified by Vermont.
Google agreed to disable advertising (Google’s “AdWords” program) for any unlicensed lender identified by Vermont, and has already disabled 66 lender URLs. Google agreed that it will continue to prohibit future unlicensed lenders from advertising using Google’s AdWords program, based on updates from the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Google expressed its support: “We’re appreciative that Attorney General Sorrell brought this issue to our attention so that we could take action regarding content that violates our policies.” Letter to Google Dec. 2, 2014
See Microsoft update below.
Yahoo and Microsoft advertising are linked under the Yahoo-Bing Network. Microsoft disabled advertising for 10 lenders identified by Vermont, and agreed to prohibit advertising for future unlicensed lenders, as identified and updated by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Microsoft also expressed its support: “Microsoft is committed to helping ensure that advertisers on the Yahoo-Bing Network are compliant with our editorial policies and Vermont Law.” Letter to Microsoft Dec. 2, 2014
On May 30, 2014, NACHA issued additional due diligence guidelines for payment processors and others who use the ACH network, regarding high-risk merchants such as online lenders. NACHA also agreed to compile a list of high-risk merchants and make that list available to state regulatory bodies. Read more about NACHA’s position in its press release.
ETA distributed Vermont’s letter to its members during TRANSACT-14 – an annual industry conference held in April 2014.
TPPPA confirmed that it is dedicated to promoting responsible payment processing, including by developing a state-of-the-art compliance system for its members to follow best practices regarding due diligence and monitoring, to protect against consumer fraud.
Vermont’s letter was distributed to the banking and credit union members, and was posted on their respective websites.
Vermont employers Rhino Foods and Engelberth Construction proudly participate in the United Way’s Working Bridges loan advance program; Rhino Foods describes the positive results here. Learn more in this PBS news report.
Click here if you are a consumer and to read more about Personal Loan Issues.
Published: Jan 13, 2015