Consumer Protection

Banks Settle Wrongful Foreclosure Charges

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that BAC Home Loans Servicing (BAC), a Bank of America subsidiary, and Saxon Mortgage Services (Saxon), a Morgan Stanley subsidiary, have agreed to settle charges that they wrongfully foreclosed on approximately a combined 177 active duty service members without first obtaining court orders. BAC and Saxon have agreed to pay US$20 million and US$2.35 million respectively.
DoJ’s media release (26 May 2011)
(Source: DoJ)

Safety Investigations into Ford Freestyle Acceleration Issues

Ford’s Freestyle crossover vehicle is currently being investigated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). Complaints to the agency have alleged that the vehicle can lunge unexpectedly when traveling at low speeds or idling. So far the NHTSA has received 238 complaints regarding 2005-2007 Freestyle models. A spokesperson for Ford has stated the company is cooperating fully with the NHTSA investigation. As of 2009, Ford stopped manufacturing the Freestyle vehicle.
Feds Investigating Ford Freestyle Acceleration (16 May 2011)
(Source: Associated Press)

Telco Fined for Misleading Conduct
Asia Pacific

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it has fined SingTel Optus Pty Ltd (Optus) A$178,200 over its “Max Cap” plans advertising in which the ACCC found that Optus made misleading representations as to the price of the plans. According to the ACCC, “these advertisements gave the impression that a consumer could purchase these cap plans and expect to pay a maximum specified amount per month, when in fact the specified amount was the minimum the consumer would pay each month”. Additionally, the service was advertised as allowing consumers to make calls to anyone when in fact some types of calls were excluded, stated the ACCC. Optus has been issued with 27 infringement notices costing A$6,600 each as a result of its misleading advertisements.
ACCC’s media release (18 May 2011)
(Source: ACCC)

HUD Report Finds Major Banks Defrauded Govt

Reuters reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspector general has found that Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial defrauded the government in seeking reimbursements for federally insured loans on properties they improperly foreclosed upon using faulty paperwork. Reportedly, the banks are now negotiating settlement agreements with the HUD, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Treasury Department and state attorneys general.
Reuters: Banks accused of fraud in foreclosure probe: report (16 May 2011)
(Source: Reuters)

FTC Finds Dealers Compliant With Consumer Protection Laws

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it has concluded investigations of almost 50 automobile dealers across the nation to assess whether or not their financing practices comply with federal consumer protection laws. The FTC’s investigations have found broad compliance with the FTC’s Rule Concerning Preservation of Consumers’ Claims and Defenses, more commonly known as the “Holder in Due Course” Rule.
FTC’s media release (16 May 2011)
(Source: FTC)