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FirstPlus Financial Group, Inc.; Analysis to Aid Public Comment

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Federal Trade Commission.


Proposed consent agreement.


The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint that accompanies the consent agreement and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.


Comments must be received on or before September 18, 2000.


Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.

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William Haynes, FTC/S-4429, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580. (202) 326-3107.

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Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46 and § 2.34 of the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 2.34), notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent Start Printed Page 51322order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for August 17, 2000), on the World Wide Web, at “​ftc/​formal.htm. A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room H-130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-3627.

Public comment is invited. Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580. Two paper copies of each comment should be filed, and should be accompanied, if possible, by a 31/2 inch diskette containing an electronic copy of the comment. Such comments or views will be considered by the Commission and will be available for inspection and copying at its principal office in accordance with Section 4.9(b)(6)(ii) of the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 4.9(b)(6)(ii)).

Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission has accepted an agreement to a proposed consent order from FirstPlus Financial Group, Inc. (“FirstPlus”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.

Through direct mail, television, and online advertisement, FirstPlus has disseminated information promoting high loan-to-value (“HLTV”) loans, home equity loans, and other types of consumer credit transactions. The complaint alleges that many of these advertisements are deceptive and misleading, and violate various provisions of the .Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC. Act”), the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), and Regulation Z. Specifically, the complaint alleges that FirstPlus: (1) Falsely represented in its advertising that consumers would save money when consolidating existing debts in a FirstPlus loan and that the examples shown in FirstPlus's advertising accurately illustrate potential monthly savings; (2) falsely represented that each consumer receiving a solicitation from the company would actually receive a loan; (3) misrepresented that consumers would receive loans for the full amount states in the company's advertisement; (4) failed to adequately disclose credit terms for its loan products; and (5) failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously key information about the terms of its credit offers as required by the TILA and Regulation Z.

The proposed consent order (1) prohibits FirstPlus from misrepresenting the comparative or absolute savings or benefits of consolidating debt, including misrepresenting the circumstances under which consumers can save money when consolidating, and misrepresenting the monthly savings consumers will realize over the extended life of the FirstPlus loan; (2) prohibits FirstPlus from misrepresenting an individual's eligibility to receive a loan; (3) prohibits FirstPlus from misrepresenting the amount of loan proceeds to be disbursed to consumers, or misrepresenting the amount of proceeds to be disbursed on consumers' behalf to third parties; (4) prohibits FirstPlus from stating the savings or benefits of a FirstPlus loan, as compared to other consumer credit transactions, without disclosing accurately, clearly, and conspicuously all material information needed by consumers to evaluate the comparison; (5) prohibits FirstPlus from using an example of the cost savings or benefits of a FirstPlus loan, as compared to other consumer credit transactions, without basing the example on reasonable assumptions regarding average annual percentage rates and repayment terms for comparable credit transactions; and (6) requires FirstPlus to comply with the disclosure requirements of the TILA and Regulation Z when stating the amount or percentage of any down payment, the number of payments or period of repayment, the amount of any payment, or the amount of any finance charge.

The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.

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By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,


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Statement of Chairman Robert Pitofsky and Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson

This matter is the Commission's first action brought against a consumer finance company for misrepresenting the savings that consumers would gain by consolidating their debts into a high loan-to-value (HLTV) loan. Accordingly, this case sends an important law enforcement message to companies engaged in this multi-billion dollar financial market that the Commission will look closely at HLTV transactions and take appropriate action when consumers are victimized by those who omit or misrepresent material facts relating to such loans.

Because this principle is so important, we also note that this case does not necessarily establish the full scope of relief that the Commission may seek in future cases. While the Commission's order—by providing for strong injunctive relief—supplies the full dose of all relief feasible in light of this particular respondent's weak financial situation, we believe that the Commission may consider pursuing additional relief in future cases involving deceptive HLTV loan advertising. Specifically, we expect that the Commission, in appropriate circumstances, would seek consumer redress or other monetary relief.

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[FR Doc. 00-21471 Filed 8-22-00; 8:45 am]