Company Barred from Packing Additional Products Into Consumer Loans
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has halted the alleged illegal lending practices of Stewart Finance Company, its owner John Ben Stewart, Jr., and nine related companies, pending trial.
In a complaint filed September 4, 2003, the FTC charged Stewart Finance and its affiliates with violating federal lending laws in the making of personal loans to consumers. The complaint alleged that the defendants deceptively sold extra products with the loans, including insurance and car club memberships, and that Stewart deceived consumers about the cost of using Stewart Finance’s direct deposit program. The FTC asked the court to bar the illegal practices and order redress for consumers. The court entered a temporary restraining order, and the defendants agreed to the entry of two preliminary injunction orders that prohibit the defendants from violating the law pending trial and that freeze John Ben Stewart, Jr.’s assets to preserve them for consumer redress.
The FTC has set up a phone number for individuals to call for more information about this case. That number is: 877-862-0886.
In addition to Stewart Finance and John Ben Stewart, Jr., the FTC complaint names Stewart Finance Company Holdings, Inc., Stewart Finance Company, Inc., Stewart National Finance Company, Inc., Stewart Finance Company of Louisiana, Inc., Stewart Finance Company of Missouri, Inc., Stewart Finance Company of Illinois, Inc., Stewart Finance Company of Tennessee, Inc., D & E Acquisitions, Inc., Preferred Choice Auto Club, Inc., Stewart Insurance, Ltd., and J & J Insurance, Ltd.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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(FTC File No. 032 3005)