On December 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked a federal district court to approve a settlement with a New Jersey debt settlement firm that would require the firm to pay a fine of $69,075 for allegedly charging consumers illegal upfront fees for debt-settlement services they never received.
The proposed consent order was filed in federal district court in Manhattan. The settlement would require Premier Consulting Group LLC, a debt consulting firm, to pay a fine and change its debt settlement processes to avoid scamming consumers, including charging illegal upfront fees.
According to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, Premier Consulting Group and related companies “took advantage of consumers in financial distress, charging tens of thousands of dollars for services they failed to deliver.” Cordray noted in a statement: “Charging upfront fees for debt-settlement services is against the law, and today’s action is another reminder that these illegal practices will not be tolerated.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Premier will pay a civil penalty of $69,075, which represents the alleged amount of advance fees the companies took from consumers who did not have any debt settled.
In May 2013, Premier Consulting was implicated in a CFPB action – the Bureau’s first-ever criminal referral against Mission Settlement Agency, its owner, and related entities. In November 2014, the owner of Mission Settlement was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges of mail and wire fraud.
You can follow the Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor for updates on this and other news related to the CFPB and debt collection.