Attorney General Reminds Vermont Borrowers About September 1st Refund Deadline And Announces Progress On Curbing Illegal Lending

CONTACT: Justin Kolber, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5620

August 21, 2014

Vermont borrowers who took out a loan from Western Sky (also known as CashCall or Delbert), one of the largest online lenders of high-interest consumer loans, are reminded that September 1, 2014, is the deadline to file their claim for a cash refund. Specific details regarding the Western Sky/CashCall settlement and how to file a claim are available here.

To date, the Vermont Attorney General has settled with four lenders and one payment processor, resulting in over $1,100,000 in combined total restitution for Vermont borrowers, and $105,000 in direct payments to the State. Borrower refunds for these other settlements are being issued automatically.

In addition to reminding Vermont borrowers about their September 1st refund deadline, Attorney General William H. Sorrell is pleased to announce an update in combating predatory loans: “On April 23, 2014, my office made clear that illegal loans – unlicensed, short-term, high-interest, small-dollar loans – will not be tolerated in Vermont, and we have achieved results,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

First, the major internet search providers (Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo) all agreed to disable advertising for any lender identified by Vermont or any other state as violating state law. Around 60-70 such lenders have already been banned from internet advertising, and more will be prohibited as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and these internet search providers. In support of the Attorney General’s announcement, Google stated that: “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.” Microsoft and Yahoo also expressed their support: “Microsoft is committed to helping ensure that advertisers on the Yahoo-Bing Network are compliant with our editorial policies and Vermont Law.”

Next, NACHA, the supervisory body of the electronic payments system, issued a press release on May 30, 2014, announcing its own efforts to work with Vermont, including issuing stronger guidelines for high-risk transactions like online small-dollar loans and compiling a list of high-risk merchants.

Alternatives to high-interest loans are also available in Vermont. Numerous Vermont employers and credit unions are participating in the United Way of Chittenden County’s “Working Bridges” loan program, which provides a reliable and affordable loan alternative based on salary advances for employees. Learn more here.

More details on these and other updates, as well as general information regarding illegal loans, are available on the Attorney General’s “Illegal Lending” website.

Published: Aug 21, 2014