CFPB hits auto loan servicer for $2.4M

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered an auto loan servicer on Wednesday to pay $2.4 million in fines and redress to consumers for failing to abide by a 2015 consent order alleging it bullied members of the military.

Acting on a tip from a service member's father, the CFPB found that Security National Automotive Acceptance Co., an auto loan servicer in Mason, Ohio, did not provide $1 million in refunds and credits of the $2.3 million it agreed to pay to consumers under a 2015 consent order.

Security National was ordered to pay a $1.25 million penalty to the CFPB, on top of a $1 million penalty assessed in 2015.

"This company violated a bureau order when it failed to get money back to servicemembers it had hounded with illegal debt collection tactics,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a press release. "We are making sure this company finally rights its wrongs."

Security National said in an emailed statement that it disagreed with the CFPB's interpretation of the 2015 consent order, but agreed to the order "without admitting to its findings."

"SNAAC agreed to this settlement to close this matter and move forward in serving customers in the respectful, honorable manner that has been the company’s tradition," the company said.

The CFPB had sued Security National for using illegal debt collection practices, including bullying tactics to get military personnel who were delinquent on their auto loans, to pay. Collectors in many cases contacted service members' superior officers about their debts and claimed military members could be demoted, discharged or lose their security clearance for not paying.

The CFPB took issue with the company's application of credits to roughly 2,200 borrowers. Security National said the number of borrowers represents a fraction of the 83,000 accounts serviced by the company from 2011 to 2015.

The CFPB said the company issued "worthless credits," to consumers who had positive account balances or had debts discharged in bankruptcy. The bureau also said the company improperly credited some consumers who were making payments under settlement agreements, and who may have unwittingly overpaid Security National to settle their accounts.

Security National was ordered to pay roughly $720,000 to refund about 925 customers, issue $370,000 in new credits to roughly 2,000 borrowers, and pay $75,000 to the bureau to cover the costs of distributing new refunds.

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Enforcement actions Auto lending CFPB