Dolores S. Smith, Director
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Washington, D.C. 20551
Dear Ms. Smith:
This letter responds to your request for information regarding the enforcement activities of the Federal Trade Commission ("Commission" or "FTC") under the Truth in Lending, Consumer Leasing, Equal Credit Opportunity, and Electronic Fund Transfer Acts ("Acts") during the year 2000 for use in preparing the Federal Reserve Board's ("Board") Annual Report to Congress. You have asked for information regarding the Commission's enforcement activities pursuant to those Acts, including methods of enforcement and significant enforcement actions and the extent to which compliance is achieved by entities subject to the Commission's enforcement authority.(1) Also, you have asked whether the Commission recommends any changes to these laws or their implementing regulations or wishes to provide other comments or observations.
I. THE COMMISSION'S ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES
UNDER THE ACTS DURING THE PAST YEAR(2)
Truth in Lending Act and Consumer Leasing Act
In calendar year 2000, the Commission continued its ongoing enforcement efforts, including those to curb abusive practices in the subprime mortgage lending industry. The Commission obtained consent orders against two mortgage companies for violations of the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act ("HOEPA"), the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), Regulation Z, and the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act") and filed a complaint in federal district court against another mortgage company for violations of the TILA, Regulation Z, and the FTC Act. Litigation is continuing in federal district court regarding a complaint charging a Washington, D.C. mortgage lender and its owner with violating the TILA, Regulation Z, and the FTC Act. The Commission obtained a consent judgment against a subprime finance company and its owner pertaining to credit accident and health insurance, and issued a final decision and order against another finance company regarding debt consolidation loans, involving alleged violations of the TILA, Regulation Z, and the FTC Act. The Commission also issued consent judgments against several companies and principals in a case alleging violations of the TILA, Regulation Z, and the FTC Act in connection with payday loans. The Commission filed an amended complaint in federal district court charging a company that sold vacation travel packages with violating the TILA and Regulation Z by failing to issue credits to consumers in credit card transactions after telling them credits would be provided. The Commission issued eight final decisions and orders against vehicle dealers and their owners for lease and/or credit advertising violations of the Consumer Leasing Act ("CLA"), Regulation M, the TILA, Regulation Z, and/or the FTC Act, and one final decision and order against a manufactured home dealer for violations of the TILA and Regulation Z. These cases are discussed below. Other investigations of potential TILA and/or CLA violations are ongoing.
A. Mortgage Cases Alleging TILA Violations
A consent order was entered against Delta Funding Corp. and Delta Financial Corp. ("Delta"), a national subprime mortgage lender, in a case brought by the Commission in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD").(3) The complaint included allegations that this mortgage lender engaged in a pattern or practice of asset-based lending, extending high cost loans based on the borrower's collateral rather than considering the borrower's current and expected income, current obligations, and employment status to determine whether the borrower is able to make the scheduled payments to repay the obligation. The complaint also alleged that defendants included prohibited terms in HOEPA loans, such as certain prepayment penalties and increased interest rates after default. These practices were charged as violations of the HOEPA, the TILA and Regulation Z. The consent order, inter alia, enables consumers harmed by Delta's HOEPA violations to be eligible for redress under an agreement between Delta and the New York State Banking Department ("NYSBD") through which $12.25 million is available to compensate borrowers for various state and Federal law alleged violations. The consent order also provides for injunctive relief under the HOEPA, the TILA, and Regulation Z.
The Commission also settled charges that another subprime mortgage lender, Nu West, Inc. and its principal, violated the HOEPA, the TILA, Regulation Z, and/or the FTC Act. The complaint alleged that defendants failed to disclose to consumers material loan costs and other information at least three days before closing,(4) included prohibited balloon payments and increased interest rate provisions in loan documents, and made prohibited direct payments to home improvement contractors, in violation of the HOEPA, the TILA, and Regulation Z. The complaint further charged that defendants failed to disclose or accurately disclose various loan terms, including the annual percentage rate ("APR") and finance charge, and information concerning the right of rescission, in violation of the TILA, Regulation Z, and/or the FTC Act. The consent order, inter alia, requires defendants to pay more than $160,000 in consumer redress and to reform open loans that they wholly or partially own to nullify prohibited provisions and provides for various injunctive relief.
The Commission filed a complaint in Federal district court against First Alliance Mortgage Co. and two affiliated companies,(5) which are among the nation's largest subprime home equity lenders. The complaint charged these companies with violations of the TILA, Regulation Z, and/or the FTC Act. According to the complaint, the defendants target, through telemarketing and direct mail solicitations, homeowners with poor credit histories who may experience difficulty securing conventional home equity financing. Loan officers use a lengthy, thirteen-step sales presentation, known as "the Track," to sell loans. The complaint alleged defendants, through use of the Track, used misleading statements about material terms of the loan and the meaning of material information used in the TILA disclosure, in violation of the FTC Act. The complaint alleged that defendants misrepresent that the total amount borrowed, upon which interest accrues, is the amount financed that appears on the TILA disclosure statement when, in fact, it does not include the loan origination fees. The complaint also alleged that defendants mislead consumers about the existence and amount of origination fees (typically 10%-25% of the loan) and about the interest rate and monthly payments of their short-term "teaser rate" adjustable rate mortgages ("ARMs"). The complaint further alleged that defendants did not have a reasonable basis to substantiate their claims that consumers will save money when consolidating debts through their loans. In addition, the complaint alleged that defendants have failed to provide borrowers with ARM loans with information required by the TILA and Regulation Z that explains ARMs. The complaint seeks an order awarding, inter alia, consumer redress and injunctive relief.
Litigation continued against Capital City Mortgage Corp. ("Capital City"), a Washington, D.C.-area mortgage company and its owner, Thomas K. Nash, in a case alleging numerous violations of federal laws.(6) The complaint alleges, inter alia, that defendants violated the TILA and Regulation Z, and engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices, in violation of the FTC Act by: 1) understating the APR and finance charges; 2) failing to disclose or accurately disclose the payment schedule (including failing to disclose a balloon payment); and 3) failing to provide disclosures that accurately reflect the legal obligation. The complaint also alleges that defendants engaged in other deceptive or unfair practices in offering and extending credit and throughout the loans, in violation of the FTC Act, with the result that a number of borrowers were overcharged on their loans, were defaulted, and had title to their homes or other property impaired or completely lost (along with the equity). The complaint asks the court to award, inter alia, the amount necessary to prevent unjust enrichment, consumer redress and injunctive relief. The discovery phase in the case has ended; a trial date has not yet been set.(7)
B. Various Other TILA Cases
A consent decree was entered against Action Loan Co., Inc. and its principal, in a case brought by the Commission and HUD that settled charges that this subprime finance company and its owner violated a variety of Federal lending and consumer protection laws when making loans secured by real or personal property to consumers.(8) The complaint alleged, inter alia, that defendants: 1) misrepresented that consumers were purchasing only credit life insurance when, in fact, they were also purchasing accident and health insurance, in violation of the FTC Act; and 2) failed to include the cost of accident and health insurance in the finance charge and APR, in violation of the TILA and Regulation Z. The consent decree requires defendants, inter alia, to provide up to $25,000 in consumer redress to consumers who purchased accident and health insurance that was undisclosed in violation of the TILA and Regulation Z, requires certain disclosures to consumers if credit-related insurance is not included in credit costs under the loan, and provides for injunctive relief.
The Commission issued a final decision and order against FirstPlus Financial Group, Inc., resolving charges against this entity's now-bankrupt subsidiary, FirstPlus Financial, Inc. ("FirstPlus"), in connection with advertisements for debt consolidation loans, including high "loan-to-value" ("HLTV") financing. In this case -- the Commission's first regarding misrepresentations about HLTV loans(9) -- the complaint charged that the advertisements were false and misleading because they, inter alia, misrepresented the amount of money consumers would save and failed to adequately disclose material loan information, in violation of the FTC Act. The complaint alleged that the examples shown in FirstPlus advertisements failed to accurately illustrate the potential monthly savings and misrepresented that each recipient of the solicitation who applied for the loan advertised would receive such loan. In addition, the complaint alleged that FirstPlus advertisements claimed that consumers would receive funds for the full loan amount stated in the ads, when consumers did not because FirstPlus deducted substantial origination fees and closing costs (e.g., 10.43%) from the disbursed funds. The complaint also alleged that FirstPlus ran deceptive credit promotions by failing to disclose or failing to disclose adequately certain material credit terms, in violation of the FTC Act, and failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously required credit information, in violation of the TILA and Regulation Z.(10) Under the order, FirstPlus is prohibited from misrepresenting, inter alia, the savings or benefits of consolidating credit card balances and other loans into a FirstPlus loan, the amount of loan proceeds disbursed to consumers, and the dollar value of cost savings or benefits of a FirstPlus loan. The order also prohibits FirstPlus from using any example of cost savings or benefits of a FirstPlus loan compared to other consumer credit transactions unless the example is based on reasonable assumptions regarding average APRs and repayment terms from comparable credit transactions. The order also prohibits respondent from stating various credit terms without disclosing clearly and conspicuously all terms required by the TILA and Regulation Z.
Consent judgments were entered against Consumer Money Markets, Inc., Continental Direct Services, Inc., and various affiliated companies and principals, in the Commission's first case against a provider of payday loans.(11) The complaint charged that defendants falsely represented, in violation of the FTC Act, that consumers who paid a membership fee of $149-$169 would receive a credit line of thousands of dollars and cash advance privileges when, in fact, they could only use the credit line to buy items from a catalog and the "cash-on-demand" feature involved short-term, payday loans of $20-$40 with interest rates of up to 360% or more per year. According to the complaint, defendants collected membership fees of over $12 million from 80,000 consumers in 1996-99 and less than eight percent of the customers purchased even one catalog product or took out a cash loan. The complaint also alleged that defendants violated the TILA and Regulation Z by: 1) running credit advertisements for single payment, payday loans that stated a rate of finance charge but failed to disclose the APRs and that failed to state only those terms that are or will be arranged or offered by the creditor; and 2) failing to provide clear and conspicuous written disclosures before loan consummation in a form consumers could keep. The consent judgments, inter alia, require various defendants to disgorge over $350,000 and forgive over $1.6 million in consumer debts, prohibit defendants from making various misrepresentations, and require defendants to comply with the TILA and Regulation Z, including regarding advertisements or extensions of payday loans or other consumer credit.
The Commission filed an amended complaint against Epic Resorts, LLC and Epic Travel, LLC, and their principals, timeshare developers that used telemarketers to sell vacation travel packages to consumers.(12) The amended complaint alleged, inter alia, that defendants and their telemarketers failed to provide consumers with credits regarding credit card transactions, in connection with vacation travel packages, after having informed consumers the credits would be provided. The complaint asks the court to award, inter alia, consumer redress (including rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, refund of monies paid, and disgorgement of ill-gotten monies) and to permanently restrain defendants from future law violations, including of the TILA and Regulation Z.
C. Vehicle Lease and Credit Advertising Cases
The Commission issued final decisions and orders in two cases which are the first to primarily focus on deceptive Internet vehicle promotions. These cases -- Simmons Rockwell Ford Mercury, Inc. ("Simmons Rockwell") and R.N. Motors, Inc. and Red Noland Cadillac ("Red Noland)(13)-- involved promotions for low monthly lease costs that failed to disclose the true costs of vehicle leasing. In Simmons Rockwell and Red Noland, the complaints charged that these companies and their CEOs ran deceptive lease advertisements that failed to disclose or failed to disclose adequately additional costs in the lease offers, such as the total due at lease inception (that could be $2,000 or more) and/or that a security deposit is required for the lease, or provided key cost terms in inconspicuous or unreadable fine print, in violation of the FTC Act, the CLA, and Regulation M. The complaint against Red Noland also charged that this company's ads offered lease rates to consumers but failed to disclose that the rates may not measure the overall cost of financing the lease, in violation of Regulation M. The complaint against Simmons Rockwell also charged that this dealer offered credit terms in print advertisements but omitted other important credit terms, such as the monthly payments, or stated them in blurry, unreadable print, in violation of the TILA and Regulation Z.
The orders in Simmons Rockwell and Red Noland bar the companies and their CEOs from misrepresenting the costs or terms of vehicle leasing, including the amount due at lease inception, and prohibit respondents from disseminating lease promotions that state payment amounts or certain other material terms unless the ads also clearly and conspicuous disclose other key lease information, such as the total amount due at lease inception, and otherwise comply with all requirements of the CLA and Regulation M. In Red Noland, the order also bars respondents from promoting a lease rate without also stating that the rate may not measure the overall cost of financing the lease. In Simmons Rockwell, the order also prohibits respondents from making certain credit offers in advertisements without providing consumers with other key cost disclosures, such as the APR and terms of repayments and requires respondents to comply with all requirements of the TILA and Regulation Z.
The Commission also issued final decisions and orders in six cases involving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania vehicle dealerships and their CEOs for omitting or burying in fine print significant costs in advertised lease and/or credit offers.(14) In all six cases, the complaints alleged deceptive vehicle lease advertisements, in violation of the FTC Act, by failing to disclose and/or failing to disclose adequately essential lease information. The six dealerships and their CEOs were charged with hiding various lease costs in fine-print disclosures located far from prominent claims of low monthly payments or with omitting completely these costs. In some case, the complaints also alleged that these respondents: 1) misrepresented the amount due at lease inception by promoting low down payments or "$0 down," when additional fees were due at lease signing; 2) represented that consumers could buy the advertised vehicles for a low monthly amount, while the offer was for a lease; and/or 3) misrepresented that the dealer's "double your down payment" offer was available for advertised vehicles when it was not. In all six cases, the complaints also alleged the lease ads stated certain terms under the CLA and Regulation M but failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously other required lease information.(15) The orders in these six cases include requirements that the dealerships and their CEOs make clear and accurate cost disclosures in lease and/or credit advertisements and require all respondents to comply with all provisions of the CLA and Regulation M.(16)
The Commission issued a final decision and order against Riley Manufacturer Homes, Inc., an Illinois-based seller of prefabricated housing and its CEO. This case involves an action for failure to provide consumers with important information needed to evaluate offers to finance the purchase of manufactured housing. According to the complaint, respondents offered low interest rates and low monthly payment amounts in print advertisements and failed to disclose all credit information required by the TILA and Regulation Z, including the APR and other cost terms. The order prohibits respondents from stating various credit terms without providing all credit terms mandated by the TILA and Regulation Z, including the APR, the amount or percentage of downpayment, and terms of repayment. The order also requires respondents to comply with all requirements of the TILA and Regulation Z.
D. Other Initiatives
The Commission also released a staff report on a nationwide survey of rent-to-own ("RTO") customers.(17) As discussed in the report, the staff surveyed over 12,000 randomly-selected U.S. households, identifying 532 RTO customers who were interviewed about the experiences with RTO transactions. Among other things, the survey found that most RTO merchandise is ultimately purchased by the customer; most customers are also satisfied with their transactions and are treated well if they make late payments although some customers are subject to possibly abusive collection practices. Some additional findings of the survey include:
- 2.3% of U.S. households used RTO transactions in the last year; 31% of RTO customers were African American; 79% were 18-44 years old; 73 % had a high school education or less; 59% had household incomes below $25,000; and 53% lived in the South;
- 2) 70% of RTO merchandise was ultimately purchased by the customer; 67% of customers intended to purchase the merchandise when they began the RTO transactions; and 87% who intended to purchase actually did so;
- 75% of RTO customers were satisfied with their experience and 19% were dissatisfied; high prices were the most common reason for the dissatisfaction; and
- nearly half of all RTO customers were late making a payment; 64% of late customers reported that they received either "very good" or "good" treatments and another 20% reported that the treatment was "fair;" 15% reported being treated poorly.
The report notes that providing information on the cost of purchasing merchandise through a RTO transaction is important because most such merchandise is ultimately purchased by the customer. The report also states that disclosure of the total cost and other key terms of purchase would allow potential customers to compare RTO transaction costs to other alternatives and help ensure consumers choosing RTO transactions do so on an informed basis.
The Commission's staff is also assessing the impact of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act ("E-Sign Act" or "Act")(18) on the agency's enforcement and other activities. The staff is reviewing the E-Sign Act in the context of the numerous Federal statutes and rules enforced by the Commission, including the TILA and CLA. The Commission and the Department of Commerce have also commenced the study of the consumer consent provision of the E-Sign Act, as required by the Act, and will hold a public workshop on April 3, 2001, to examine this issue.(19)
E. Consumer and Business Education
The Commission continues to view consumer and business education efforts as important complements to its enforcement activities. In 2000, the Commission issued a consumer publication to provide information to consumers regarding payday loans, "Payday Loans - Costly Cash." In addition, the Commission also revised and updated various publications including, "High Rate, High Fee Loans," "Need A Loan? Think Twice About using Your Home as Collateral," and "Advertising Consumer Leases." The Commission staff also continued to participate in Board-sponsored activities on the "Lease Education Program Team," involving the Board, Commission staff, and a coalition of entities, which developed and this year released a computer program to enhance awareness of vehicle leasing. The Commission's above consumer protection materials were made available to the public through the Commission's website.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
In calendar year 2000, the Commission in conjunction with various other agencies obtained consent orders against a subprime mortgage lender and subprime finance company for violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA") and Regulation B. Litigation continues in another case involving a mortgage lender. Those cases are discussed below. Other enforcement efforts continue.
The Commission's complaint against Action Loan, discussed above, also alleged that this finance company violated the ECOA and Regulation B when taking adverse action on finance applications.(20) The complaint charged that defendants: 1) failed to provide applicants with written notification of the action taken; 2) failed to provide applicants with the specific, principal reason(s) for adverse action or to disclose the applicant's right to a written statement of those reasons; and 3) failed to provide applicants with a statement of the provisions of Section 701(a) of the ECOA and the name and address of the Commission as the Federal agency that administers compliance with the ECOA with respect to Action Loan. Under the consent decree, defendants agreed to pay a civil penalty of $350,000 for violations, inter alia, of the ECOA and Regulation B and to the entry of a permanent injunction.
As noted above, litigation continues against Capital City, and the Commission is awaiting a trial date in this action.(21) The complaint alleges, inter alia, that the company and its owner, Thomas K. Nash, violated the ECOA and Regulation B by: 1) failing to take written applications for mortgage loans; 2) failing to collect required information about the race or national origin, sex, marital status, and age of applicants; 3) failing to provide rejected applicants with written notice of adverse action; and 4) when providing notice of adverse action, failing to provide applicants with the correct name and address of the Commission, the federal agency that administers compliance with the ECOA with respect to defendants Capital City and Nash. The Commission is seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief for the alleged violations of the ECOA and Regulation B.
The Commission continued its consumer and business education efforts. The staff worked with other governmental agencies and with creditor and consumer organizations to increase awareness of and compliance with the ECOA. The Commission also continued its active participation in the Interagency Task Force on Fair Lending. The Commission's staff also considered possible issues related to the E-Sign Act and the ECOA.(22)
Electronic Fund Transfer Act
In 2000, the Commission continued its consumer and business education efforts in this area. The Commission's staff also considered possible issues related to the E-Sign Act and the EFTA.(23)
II. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR CHANGES IN THE
ACTS OR THEIR IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS
In 2000, the Commission testified before Congress and the Board regarding fraudulent or other abusive practices in home equity lending and made recommendations for changes in the HOEPA and the TILA and their implementing regulations. In May 2000, the Commission's testimony before the U.S. House Banking Committee summarized the Commission's law enforcement activities and consumer education program to address increasing problems in this area.(24) The Commission recommended, inter alia, possible amendments to expand HOEPA's coverage, including: 1) prohibiting the financing of single-premium, or lump-sum, credit insurance premiums (as well as other loan "extras") in loans covered by HOEPA; 2) counting lump-sum financed credit insurance premiums (and other extras) toward HOEPA's fees-based trigger; and 3) providing the Commission and other law enforcers with the power to impose civil penalties for HOEPA violations. In September 2000, the Commission testified before the Board in response to the Board's request for the views of the Commission and others regarding possible amendments to the HOEPA and the TILA.(25) The Commission's testimony summarized the growing problem of fraudulent or other abusive practices in home equity lending nationwide and their use in exploiting lower-income and minority borrowers. The Commission made various recommendations to the Board to further address these practices, including: 1) revising HOEPA's triggers involving the APR and points and fees tests to expand HOEPA's coverage; 2) banning the financing of single-premium credit-related insurance in HOEPA loans; and 3) clarifying the existing ban on asset-based lending.
The Commission continues to support the Board's efforts to enhance consumer protections in this important area. In addition, the Commission supports the Board's ongoing regulatory review of Regulation B.
The Commission hopes that the information contained in this letter responds to your inquiry and will assist in preparation of the Board's Annual Report to Congress. If any other information would be useful or if you wish to request additional assistance, please contact Joel Winston, Acting Associate Director, Division of Financial Practices, at (202) 326-3224.
By direction of the Commission.
1. The Commission is charged with enforcement of the FTC Act and various Federal consumer financial laws and regulations, including the TILA, CLA, ECOA, and EFTA, with respect to most nonbank entities in the nation. The Commission does not have data regarding the extent of compliance by these numerous entities with these mandates. As a result, the letter does not provide information on this issue.
3. United States v. Delta Funding Corp. and Delta Financial Corp., Civ. No. CV-00-1872 (E.D.N.Y.) (Mar. 30, 2000).
4. Federal Trade Commission v. Nu West, Inc., No. C00-1197 (W.D. Wash. July 17, 2000).
5. Federal Trade Commission v. First Alliance Mortgage Co., No. SACV 00-964 DOC (EEx) (C.D. Cal. filed Oct. 3, 2000).
6. Federal Trade Commission v. Capital City Mortgage Corp., No. 98CV00237 (D.D.C. filed Jan. 29, 1998).
7. The case is joined, for purposes of discovery, with a private lawsuit, Hargraves v. Capital City Mortgage Corp., No. 98CV1021 (D.D.C. filed Apr. 24, 1998).
8. United States v. Action Loan Co., No. 3:00 CV-511-H (W.D. Ky. Aug. 24, 2000).
9. FirstPlus Financial Group, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3984 (Nov. 28, 2000).
10. According to the complaint, the required credit disclosures, if provided, appeared in fine print and/or in an inconspicuous location.
11. Federal Trade Commission v. Consumer Money Markets, Inc., and Federal Trade Commission v. Continental Direct Services, Inc., No. CVS001071-PMP-RJJ (D. Nev. Sept. 5, 2000).
12. Federal Trade Commission v. Epic Resorts, No. 6:00 CV-1051-ORL-19-C. (M.D. Fla. filed Sept. 1, 2000).
13. Simmons Rockwell Ford Mercury, FTC Docket No. C-3947 (June 5, 2000). R.N. Motors and Red Noland Cadillac, FTC Docket No. C-3950 (June 6, 2000).
14. Northeast Auto Outlet, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3925 (Feb. 7, 2000); Norristown Automobile Co., FTC Docket No. C-3922 (Feb. 7, 2000); Dunphy Nissan, Inc. , FTC Docket No. C-3924 (Feb. 7, 2000); Marty Sussman Organization, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3923 (Feb. 7, 2000); Pacifico Ford, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3921 (Feb. 7, 2000); Pacifico Ardmore, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3920 (Feb. 7, 2000).
15. In addition, the complaints in four cases charged that the dealerships and their CEOs ran deceptive credit promotions that violated the FTC Act, by failing to disclose and/or failing to disclose adequately crucial credit terms, by omitting required terms or placing the information in fine-print disclosures located far from prominent low downpayment claims. The complaints against these four respondents also alleged that the credit ads promoted certain key terms but omitted or failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously required credit information, and stated a rate of finance charge without stating that rate as an APR, in violation of the TILA and Regulation Z.
16. Two dealerships and their CEOs are also prohibited from making various misrepresentations pertaining to leasing. Respondents in all six cases are also required to comply with all requirements of the TILA and Regulation Z.
17. Survey of Rent-to-Own Customers, Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Economics Staff Report (April 2000). RTO dealers rent furniture, appliances, home electronics, and jewelry, typically without a downpayment or credit check. Consumers make weekly or monthly payments and can return the merchandise at any time without further obligation. Consumers obtain ownership of the merchandise by continuing to make payments for a specified period of time, typically 12-24 months. The total cost of purchasing merchandise through a RTO transaction is significantly higher than retail store prices.
18. 15 U.S.C. § 7001 et seq. The E-Sign Act became primarily effective on Oct. 1, 2000.
19. 15 U.S.C. § 7005. See 66 Fed. Reg. 10011 (Feb. 13, 2001).
20. See supra note 8.
21. See supra note 6.
22. See supra note 19.
24. Predatory Lending Practices in the Subprime Industry: Hearings Before the House Comm. on Banking and Fin. Servs., 106th Cong. 16-17 (2000) (statement of David Medine, Associate Director for Financial Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission).
25. Predatory Lending Practices in the Home-Equity Lending Market (statement of Peggy Twohig, Assistant Director for Financial Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Sept. 7, 2000).