News Column

Washington DFI Charges Unlicensed Lenders Using Military and Other Retirement Pensions for Repayment

May 20, 2014



OLYMPIA, Wash., May 20 -- The Washington state Department of Financial Institutions issued the following news release:

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Consumer Services Division announced today they have filed Statements of Charges against Pensions, Annuities and Settlements, LLC (PDF) (http://kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/saun/sjg/susr/smno/p1/CS%20Orders/C-14-1449-14-SC01.pdf), and Pension Funding, LLC (PDF) (http://kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/saun/sjg/susr/smno/p1/CS%20Orders/C-14-1448-14-SC01.pdf); two unlicensed lenders making consumer loans to Washington consumers in the form of cash advances secured by future income from pensions.

These unlicensed lenders have made at least 95 loans to Washington consumers, charging fees that would equate to interest rates ranging from 22.7 percent to 129.9 percent. The maximum rate of interest allowed under RCW 19.52, the state of Washington's usury statute, is 12 percent, and the maximum rate of interest allowed for licensees under the Consumer Loan Act is 25 percent.

The charges allege that pensioners sign a contract to receive a lump sum of cash, totaling sometimes as much as $60,000, in exchange for monthly payments from their pensions to the lender for a fixed number of months, either by direct withdrawal from the pensioner's bank account or from another bank account set up by the lender for the sole purpose of collecting the required payment.

The DFI has alleged that Pensions, Annuities and Settlements, LLC has made loans to at least 94 Washington consumers involving 23 different pension systems, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Washington Department of Retirement Systems. Other pension providers included many local governments. Pension Funding, LLC claimed it did not make "loans," but DFI confirmed one borrower and is confident that more will be identified as the case proceeds. "Our military, civil service, and private retirement system pensioners have spent a lifetime of service to Washingtonians and rely heavily on their pension income," DFI Director of Consumer Services Deborah Bortner explained. "Loans that are made by unlicensed companies with interest rates exceeding the legal limit are particularly harmful when large loan payments cut into retirees' limited monthly pension income."

Scott Jarvis, Director of DFI echoed this position.

"These companies are targeting some of our most vulnerable citizens, including elderly and disabled pensioners," Jarvis added. "It is critical that the financial products and services offered to them be in compliance with the law."

DFI consulted with the Washington Department of Retirement Systems and military retirement system representatives regarding this matter. Consumers with complaints against lenders may file a complaint with DFI by going to www.dfi.wa.gov and clicking on the "File A Complaint" link. For additional information regarding military pensions, please contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 855-411-2372 or www.consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers.

Note: The Consumer Loan Act authorizes the Director to file charges against companies and individuals believed to have violated the Act. The charges are not a finding or order that the respondents have actually violated the Act; all named respondents have the right to request an administrative hearing on the charges. To verify whether a company offering loans is licensed by DFI, go to www.dfi.wa.gov and click on the "Verify License" link.

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Source: Targeted News Service