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 and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.
Comments must be received on or before February 9, 2009.
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments. Comments should refer to “Innova Financial Group, File No. 082 3032,” to facilitate the organization of comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room 135-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments containing confidential material must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). 16 CFR 4.9(c) (2005). The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments that do not contain any nonpublic information may instead be filed in electronic form by following the instructions on the web-based form at (http://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-InnovaFinancialGroup). To ensure that the Commission consider an electronic comment, you must file it on that web-based form.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Carole Reynolds, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, (202) 326-3230.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and § 2.34 of the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order 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 January 8, 2009), on the World Wide Web, at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/01/index.htm). A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.
Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before the date specified in the DATES section.
Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from Shiva Venture Group, Inc. dba Innova Financial Group (“respondent”).
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for the receipt 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.
The complaint alleges that respondent engaged in practices that violate Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), Section 144 of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1664, and Section 226.24 of Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. § 226.24.
Section 5(a) of the FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Respondent violated Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, because it disseminated or has caused to be disseminated home loan advertisements which offer a low monthly payment amount and/or payment rate, but fail to disclose, or fail to disclose adequately, that this monthly payment amount and/or payment rate: (1) Apply only for a limited period of time, after which they will increase; (2) do not include the amount of interest that the consumer owes each month; and (3) are less than the monthly payment amount (including interest) and/or the interest rate that the consumer owes, with the difference added to the total amount due from the consumer or total loan balance. This information would be material to consumers shopping for a mortgage loan and the failure to disclose, or failure to disclose adequately, this information is a deceptive practice.
TILA and Regulation Z require that closed-end credit advertisers who state a periodic payment amount must also provide additional information in the advertisement, including the terms of repayment; the annual percentage rate (“APR”); and if the APR may be increased after consummation, that fact. TILA and Regulation Z also require that if an advertisement states a rate of finance charge, it must state the rate as an APR. Currently, Regulation Z also requires that if the advertisement states a payment rate, it must include additional disclosures. Respondent’s advertisements failed to disclose, or failed to disclose clearly and Start Printed Page 3045conspicuously, this information required by TILA and Regulation Z. Respondent’s failure to disclose this information undermined consumers’ ability to compare these offers to others in the marketplace. Through its law enforcement actions, the Commission intends to promote compliance with the disclosure requirements of TILA and Regulation Z, and to foster comparison shopping for mortgage loans.
The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent respondent from violating the FTC Act or failing to make clear and conspicuous disclosures required by TILA and Regulation Z in the future. The proposed consent order requires respondent to comply with the TILA and Regulation Z, as has been amended, see 73 Fed. Reg. 44,522 (July 30, 2008), and as may be further amended in the future.
Part I of the proposed order prohibits respondent, in connection with closed-end credit, from advertising a monthly payment amount unless respondent discloses, clearly and conspicuously and in close proximity to those representations, as applicable, that the advertised monthly payment amount: (1) applies only for a limited period of time, after which it will increase; (2) does not include the amount of interest that the consumer owes each month; and (3) is less than the monthly payment amount (including interest) that the consumer owes, with the difference added to the total amount due from the consumer or total loan balance.
Part II of the proposed order prohibits respondent, in connection with closed-end credit, from advertising a rate lower than the rate at which interest is accruing, regardless of whether the rate is referred to as an “effective rate,” a “payment rate,” a “qualifying rate,” or any other term, provided that this provision does not prohibit advertisement of the “annual percentage rate” or “APR.” In light of respondent’s deceptive use of payment rates in its advertisements, and the Federal Reserve Board’s amendments to Regulation Z banning the use of such rates effective October 1, 2009, the proposed order prohibits respondent from advertising any such rate, to ensure that respondent’s advertisements do not deceive consumers. S ee 73 Fed. Reg. at 44,608.
Part III of the proposed order prohibits respondent, in connection with closed-end credit, from advertising the amount of any payment, the number of payments or the period of repayment, or the amount of any finance charge, without disclosing, clearly and conspicuously, all of the terms required by TILA and Regulation Z, including the terms of repayment; the APR; and if the APR may be increased after consummation, that fact.
Part IV of the proposed order prohibits respondent, in connection with closed-end credit, from stating a rate of finance charge without stating the rate as an APR, as required by TILA and Regulation Z.
Part V of the proposed order prohibits respondent from failing to comply in any respect with TILA or Regulation Z.
Part VI of the proposed order contains a document retention requirement, the purpose of which is to ensure compliance with the proposed order. It requires that respondent maintain all records that will demonstrate compliance with the proposed order.
Part VII of the proposed order requires respondent to distribute copies of the order to various principals, officers, directors, and managers, and all current and future employees, agents and representatives having responsibilities with respect to the subject matter of the order.
Part VIII of the proposed order requires respondent to notify the Commission of any changes in its corporate structure that might affect compliance with this order. Part IX of the proposed order requires respondent to file with the Commission one or more reports detailing compliance with the order.
Part X of the proposed order is a “sunset” provision, dictating the conditions under which the order will terminate twenty years from the date it is issued or twenty years after a complaint is filed in federal court, by either the United States or the FTC, alleging any violations of the order.
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.
By direction of the Commission.Start Signature
Donald S. Clark,
1. The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission’s General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See Commission Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).Back to Citation
[FR Doc. E9-812 Filed 1-15-09: 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6750-01-S