Company Disputes Meritless and Misinformed Claims
BALTIMORE, Aug. 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Mariner Finance (“Mariner”), a licensed and regulated traditional installment lender that responsibly serves more than 700,000 Americans, today announced it will steadfastly defend itself against a meritless complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General and a small group of other state attorneys general.
Notably, the Federal Trade Commission and other state attorneys general conducted their own comprehensive investigations into the very same issues raised by the Pennsylvania Attorney General following the publication of a misleading media report in 2018 and closed their matters with no action taken against Mariner. The Pennsylvania Attorney General has chosen a different path, leading Mariner to expend significant time and resources to defend itself against meritless claims.
In advance of filing its complaint, Pennsylvania demanded that the company agree to a nationwide ban on the selling of lawful, authorized products that provide vital support to consumers. In doing so, Pennsylvania sought to usurp the legislative authority of every single state in the country and is attempting to effectuate legislative change through an enforcement action – an alarming example of overreach.
Mariner has been and continues to be committed to compliance with all state and federal regulations and holds itself to a high standard of customer care. In fact, since 2018 the Pennsylvania Department of Banking has examined Mariner Finance 70 times; 69 of those examinations found no violations or exceptions, while the one minor exception found was the failure of a single branch location to have a required notice concerning insufficient funds fees posted, which was immediately addressed.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s allegations are based on mere anecdote, derived from just 44 consumer interviews in Pennsylvania, the details of which have not been shared with Mariner despite multiple requests. Mariner has 39 branches in Pennsylvania, which serve on average over 1,500 customers per branch and make tens-of-thousands of loans to hard-working Pennsylvania residents annually. Based on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s own assertions, the complaint is based on interviews with consumers representing 0.07% of Mariner’s Pennsylvania customers between December 2018 – 2021.
The complaint also ignores information provided during nearly four years of cooperation with the investigation, including thousands of documents, loan data, and employee testimony which directly refute the claims. The allegations are without merit and reflect either a deep misunderstanding of the law, or simply a decision to ignore the investigation evidence which negates the claims, examples including:
Allegations of unfair or deceptive acts of insurance “packing”, despite Mariner’s written policies, procedures, employee training, consumer-facing disclosures and sworn employee testimony refuting such claims, all of which establish that Mariner’s employees repeatedly disclose the optionality and cost of the offered products to consumers, both verbally and in writing;
The incorrect claim that Mariner’s compensation program incentivizes the inclusion of optional products in loans without the consumer’s knowledge or consent, when Mariner’s compensation program does not consider, or incentivize, the sale of optional products, including insurance;
The incorrect claim that Mariner “hides” or “conceals” loan and product pricing information from consumers when, in fact, Mariner’s employees provide all of the disclosures required by both federal and state law and the company’s procedures go beyond mandated disclosure requirements in most circumstances;
The incorrect claim that Mariner should have included the cost of optional products in the calculation of loan Annual Percentage Rates (“APRs”) when federal law provides that such costs be excluded from the APR when the products are optional, their cost is disclosed to the consumer in writing, and the consumer requests the products in writing– conditions which Mariner meets for every loan that includes optional products;
The incorrect claim that Mariner prevents consumers from cancelling optional products after a loan is closed, when, in fact, Mariner provides every customer with every product it offers a 15-Day Satisfaction Guarantee, where any customer may return the loan proceeds within 15 days for any reason and the loan will be cancelled without any penalty or fee. Additionally, customers may cancel any product purchased, in-person, by email, and by phone at any time during the loan relationship; and;
The incorrect claim that Mariner’s Loan by Mail product leads to identify theft, when the evidence establishes that even potentially fraudulent Loans By Mail in Pennsylvania represent just 0.0003% of checks mailed and just 0.03% of the checks cashed or deposited.
Mariner carefully trains its employees to repeatedly disclose the optionality of available voluntary credit insurance and non-credit insurance products. Moreover, the fact that so many of our customers nationwide either elect not to purchase any such products or choose only some of the products available to them, together with the fact that customers frequently submit claims and receive valuable benefits, is evidence that customers understand the products to be optional and that they fill an important consumer need. Mariner takes seriously its role of providing an important credit option to Americans who need access to consumer credit. The vast majority of our customers have a positive experience with Mariner, a fact reflected in our average customer satisfaction score of 4.9/5 on feefo, an independent consumer rating site with over 12,500 Mariner customer reviews.
The optional products in question are lawful, statutorily authorized products that provide vital benefits to consumers who often do not have access to similar benefits elsewhere.
The claims are meritless and in no way reflect the customer-first approach Mariner takes toward its business. Mariner will vigorously defend itself against this misguided action.
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