Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) to more closely monitor and create a rulemaking to regulate providers of Buy-Now-Pay-Later financing. The coalition is concerned that this type of financing could harm financially vulnerable consumers and that it is largely unregulated. Among other things, the coalition is asking the CFPB to analyze whether providers clearly and correctly disclose fees and charges, how providers protect consumer rights, and asks the CFPB to consider requiring providers to ensure consumers have the ability to repay loans.
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general wrote a letter to social media companies TikTok and Snapchat, urging them to allow parents to monitor their children’s social media usage and protect them from online threats with parental control apps. While social media platforms already moderate content to an extent, the coalition believes that partnership with parents is essential to maintaining safe online spaces for children.
- Several state attorneys general have continued to announce partnerships with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to investigate robocalls. The attorneys general believe partnering with the FCC will allow for more effective and efficient targeting of robocalls.
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to affirm a lower court decision that transportation employees who load and unload interstate cargo are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act. The coalition is arguing that the transportation sector is critical to state economies and infrastructure, so states have an interest in ensuring any related disputes are resolved in transparent, public proceedings.
- Arizona Attorney General Brnovich announced a settlement with ABC Nissan and Pinnacle Nissan, both owned by Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, resolving allegations that they engaged in false advertising by advertising low vehicle prices online but then refusing to actually sell vehicles for that price and instead requiring the purchase of add-on accessories. The settlement includes over $500,000 in restitution, penalties, and fees.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced state Senate Bill 1311, which would increase legal and financial protections for California active duty and reserve component service members and their families. Among other things, the bill would prohibit businesses from offering military discounts that are conditioned on waiving any legal rights, bar businesses from using a loophole to deny service members the Military Lending Act’s protections, and increase civil penalties for violations of the Unfair Competition Law against service members and veterans.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announced a settlement against magazine subscription company Mountain View Publishers including a $250,000 payment and resolving allegations that the company misled consumers into subscribing to its quarterly Jackpot Journal magazine. The company allegedly sent deceptive mailers telling consumers they won prizes and asked them to sign and return the mailer, entering those consumers into an automatically renewing subscription. In addition to the payment, the settlement requires the company to clearly disclose its automatic subscription renewal and the subscription price as well as to stop using pressure tactics.
- Georgia Attorney General Carr announced a settlement with Mavis Tire Supply, LLC, resolving allegations that the company used illegal and deceptive practices during its vehicle repairs and sale of automotive parts. For example, the company was accused of telling consumers their vehicles needed parts or repairs they did not need and representing that parts were new when they were actually used. The settlement includes $200,000 in civil penalties and about $96,000 in restitution to identified and non-identified consumers.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a settlement against home health agency Compassionate Homecare, Inc., which requires the company to pay $6.53 million to MassHealth. The settlement resolves allegations that the company billed MassHealth for services a physician did not authorize, and it also sets aside $375,000 for unpaid employee wages.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel filed a civil action against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Holloo Farms, LLC, related to its alleged noncompliance with Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy permitting and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the business has overloaded state water bodies with bacteria and pathogens from animal waste.
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Platkin announced that the New Jersey Bureau of Securities issued a Summary Cease and Desist Order against financial services company Voyager Digital Ltd., Voyager Digital, LLC, and Voyager Digital Holdings, Inc., seeking to stop the company from selling unregistered securities through cryptocurrency.
- New York Attorney General James sent letters to large credit card companies and major debt collectors operating in the state, warning them that the Consumer Credit Fairness Act of 2021, which goes into effect next month, shortens the statute of limitations for consumer debt collection from six to three years. The press release also reminds companies of the requirements of the Act and federal debt collection law, such as limiting communications to consumers, providing consumers with important information, and taking debt disputes seriously.
- New York Attorney General James announced a settlement with energy service provider Columbia Utilities, LLC and Columbia Utilities Power, LLC, resolving allegations that they engaged in prohibited door-to-door marketing for gas and electric contracts, in violation of a previous settlement. The settlement includes a $500,000 payment and automatically terminates all contracts unless consumers affirmatively opt to continue them.
- New York Attorney General James issued a press release warning virtual currency investors and their advisors that taxes must be declared and paid on virtual investments, as well as cryptocurrency transactions.
- New York Attorney General James announced a court ruling against Prestigious Marketing Concepts, Inc., requiring it to pay full restitution to all consumers who paid for consumer goods, including Xboxes and PlayStations that were never delivered. The court order follows a December 2021 lawsuit Attorney General James filed against the company.
- New York Attorney General James announced agreements with home health agencies All American Homecare Agency, Inc. and Crown of Life Care NY LLC, requiring them to repay $5.4 million to Medicaid and Crown to refund over $1.5 million to employees for wage theft. The companies were accused of cheating employees out of wages and of submitting false claims to Medicaid. New York Attorney General James also announced the sentencing of the owner of Healthy Living Community Center and LCM Livery P/U, Inc. for a Medicaid fraud scam. The scam involved a sham housing assistance program the companies used to collect personal information, which was then used to submit false claims for custom-molded back braces. The sentence includes an order to repay over $4 million in restitution.
- Vermont Attorney General Donovan announced a settlement against Taconic Orthopedics, P.C., which does business as Taconic Spine, for sending a deceptive debt collection letter to patients with overdue accounts. In reality, the legal time for suing many of these patients had already passed. The settlement bars the company from collecting certain debts, requires it to use a professional debt collection agency in future collection efforts, and requires a $10,000 partially suspended payment.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that his office created a complaint form for consumers to report robocalls, as well as a website that gives consumers more information about robocalls and telemarketing scams.