Statement Regarding USEA’s Settlement with the CFPB
ORLANDO, Fla. – US Equity Advantage (USEA), one of the nation’s leading automotive biweekly loan payment service, has reached a negotiated settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ending a four-year, far-reaching and exhaustive examination requiring hundreds of man hours and thousands of pages of documents. The settlement makes clear that USEA does not admit to any of the CFPB’s allegations. USEA’s CEO finds most of them to be factually inaccurate and patently false.
We are happy to put this injustice behind us, and we look forward to continuing our rapid growth and nationwide expansion.
At the end of this four-year investigation, the CFPB could not produce a single customer complaint nor any examples of actual consumer harm. Instead, the CFPB took issue with language that occurred in two lines of a long-ago revised and frequently unused supplemental disclosure tool, and one phrase in a discontinued generic advertisement.
“That was it. That’s all the CFPB could allege after four years,” said US Equity Advantage CEO Robert Steenbergh. “And, in making these ‘findings,’ the CFPB ignored evidence showing that 95% or more of our customers could not have possibly even seen or potentially relied on the disclosures at issue – which we changed two-and-a-half years ago.”
Whereas the CFPB does not “approve” businesses, in the process of reaching this settlement, the CFPB did not take issue with the company’s biweekly payment services (aligning payments to paychecks, payment processing, enrollment process and/or amortization calculations) and acknowledged the value of all its products and services (including credit monitoring, credit scoring, vehicle valuation and recall alerts). Of significance, the CFPB found no other potential law violations, including anything related to Regulation E.
“While we were willing to stand up to the CFPB, when its attorneys threatened to subpoena F&I managers, it became a bridge too far,” said Steenbergh. “Despite never stepping foot in a dealership and failing to identify a single customer complaint about our service, the CFPB claims it ‘knows what goes on’ in dealerships. That’s their idea of evidence. It was ridiculous, but I wasn’t about to let them continue their modern-day inquisition and drag anyone else into it. So we settled. While we are not thrilled with having to pay $900,000 to resolve this situation, it’s a small fraction of what the CFPB originally demanded
“The good news is that this settlement will not impact our business at all. It will do nothing to impact the best-in-class service and value our 60+ team members have been providing to our business partners and customers for over 17 years. We are happy to put this injustice behind us, and we look forward to continuing our rapid growth and nationwide expansion. And, most importantly, I would personally like to thank all of our loyal dealer, banking and agent partners who told us when we informed them about this forthcoming settlement, that it didn’t change their perception of USEA in the slightest.”