Proposed Consent Agreement with We Give Loans, Inc.
The Federal Trade Commission's (the FTC) enforcement action and proposed consent agreement with We Give Loans, Inc. (a.k.a. the Perpetrators), FTC File No.: 072-3205, is deplorable. What we have here is an advertiser of consumer loan products who willfully, knowingly and negligently failed in each and every way to disclose important loan terms in their consumer loan advertising as is required by the federal Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) and Federal Reserve Board Regulation Z, the TILAs implementing federal regulations. However, in response to We Give Loans, Inc.'s innumerable violations of federal consumer protection advertising laws, the FTC proposes a consent order that merely requires these Perpetrators to comply in the future with all of the consumer lending advertising laws that they failed to comply with in the past. Why the hell is the FTC letting them off with less than a slap on the wrist. Obviously, all the Perp's will have to do is set up a new corporation that is entirely unrelated to We Give Loans, Inc. and run their business through it and entirely outside the watchful eyes of the FTC. They'll slow down the operations of We Give Loans, Inc. to the point that corporation is listed as active and in good standing by the Delaware Secretary of State. Eventually, after 5 years have passed, they'll just dissolve We Give Loans, Inc. and disburse any remaining assets to the principals. There will be no need to notify the FTC of the new corporation they've been running their business through because it's unrelated to the We Give Loans, Inc. I'll bet the We Give Loans, Inc. folks were about the happiest deceptive advertisers in the country once they read through your proposed consent order and found out they were going to be required to do what they should have been doing all along. Unfortunately, whenever enforcement actions are issued against violators of consumer protection laws that are barely even a slap on the wrist, the public begins to wonder why the government enforcement agency went so easy on the consumer protection violators. With human nature as it is, the public begins to wonder if the reason for violators got off so easy is because of certain incentives that may have been offered to, and accepted by, agency personnel. While it's distressing to even imagine this could happen, we know that it has been somewhat common in certain other enforcement agencies. We are prayerful that this is not what has happened in this case. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the FTC's enforcement of consumer advertising regulations against We Give Loans, Inc. is the absence of any civil money penalties. Why the hell the FTC doesn't hit the Perpetrators up for somewhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 dollars for their deceptive consumer loan advertising is a question we must all ask over and over. By giving the Perp's a slap on the wrist instead of busting them on their ass for deceiving consumers, the FTC is inviting others to follow in the footsteps of We Give Loans, Inc. In fact, the risk of these deceptive advertisers being caught in the first place is very low, and if they are caught, chances are high that they'll just get a slap on the wrist and no civil money penalties. Add all this together and these consumer loan advertisers end up with a Risk Assessment that tells them they're nuts to even bother with adding required consumer disclosures to their advertising. Way to drop the ball FTC. Given the fact that the enforcement actions you issue are nothing more than a fractional fraction of all the consumer protection violations that go unchallenged, uninvestigated and unenforced day in and day out, the FTC should make the most of each opportunity it has to enforce the law to show all the baddies that the last thing they'll ever want is to get caught violating consumer protection laws. As it is now though, there's little if any fear that any consequences will be suffered by the baddies.