DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office’s consumer credit compliance examinations yielded more than $1.8 million in refunds to more than 13,000 Colorado consumers during the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
“The size and scope of last year’s refunds underlines the effectiveness of our compliance examination program,” Suthers said. “Although individual refunds might be small in most cases, the overall results are sizeable. Consumers may not know if the terms of their credit agreements are legal or if payments have been correctly applied. However, my staff is able to review loan files and require appropriate corrective action when violations are discovered.”
The refunds resulted from violations of the state’s consumer lending law, the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The law sets maximum rates on interest and finance charge and limits amounts for delinquency fees and other charges. Some of the refunds were in the form of credits to reduce existing balances on open accounts. Most refunds were due to excess finance charges on credit transactions. Over the last five years, compliance examination refunds have averaged $1.2 million a year.
The office’s Consumer Credit Unit licenses non-bank lenders that make or take assignment of “supervised loans” to Colorado residents — defined as consumer loans with an annual percentage rate (APR) higher than 12 percent. Supervised lenders include finance companies, deferred deposit lenders (commonly known as payday lenders) and some mortgage companies, primarily junior-lien mortgages.
Supervised lenders are periodically examined for compliance with the law. In the last fiscal year, the Unit conducted compliance examinations of 610 of its 1,050 licensees. Examination reports are confidential unless the Attorney General’s Office is required to file a lawsuit against a lender that will not voluntarily take corrective action. Due to a change in the law, starting Jan. 1 examiners will also review the credit transactions of creditors selling goods or services on credit, also known as indirect lending.
The Consumer Credit Unit employs 18 people and is part of the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General. In addition to the consumer lending laws, it enforces state laws on debt management, credit repair, debt collection and rent-to-own transactions. Its staff includes three attorneys, eight consumer credit examiners and two collection agency investigators.
The Consumer Credit Unit is funded by license and registration fees paid by the companies it licenses and regulates. For more information on the Consumer Credit Unit, visit http://www.ago.state.co.us/UCCC/UCCCmain.cfm.html.
Consumers who believe they have been subjected to unfair lending practices can contact the Attorney General’s Office at 303-866-4494, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or download a complaint form at www.ago.state.co.us/UCCC/PDF/uccccmpplform.pdf.