AG’s office nets $1.8 million in consumer refunds

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Consumer credit compliance examinations performed by the state Office of the Attorney General yielded more than $1.8 million in refunds to more than 13,000 Coloradoans during the 2008-09 fiscal year.

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 the result of excess finance charges on credit transactions.

During 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 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. During 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.

Because of a change in the law, starting Jan. 1, examiners also will review the credit transactions of creditors selling goods or services on credit, also known as indirect lending.

The Consumer Credit Unit also enforces state laws on debt management, credit repair, debt collection and rent-to-own transactions. It is funded by license and registration fees paid by the companies it licenses and regulates.

For more information, visit http://www.ago.state.co.us/UCCC/UCCCmain.cfm.html.

Consumers who believe they have been subjected to unfair lending practices should call (303) 866-4494, send an e-mail to uccc@state.co.us or download a complaint form at www.ago.state.co.us/UCCC/PDF/uccccmpplform.pdf.