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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Peter J. Bildsten (“State”) announced today that Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge William Pocan approved the State's request to file suit against auto title lender Community Loans of America (“CLA”) (d/b/a Wisconsin Auto Title Loans).
“The Department is pleased to have the opportunity to initiate this enforcement action against Wisconsin Auto Title Loans and obtain remedies for violations of Wisconsin's consumer laws,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.
The State's complaint alleges CLA engaged in deceptive and unconscionable conduct in the course of selling its loans. Specifically, the complaint alleges CLA packed-in a third product with its loans, Continental Car Club (CCC), a purported motor services product. The State alleges consumers were either unaware the product was included with their loans or were told CCC was mandatory with obtaining a loan.
“A stated purpose of the Wisconsin consumer act is to protect consumers from unfair and unconscionable practices,” Secretary Bildsten said. “The Department of Financial Institutions is committed to ensuring compliance with the act and to recovering penalties and other relief where violations occur.”
CLA is a Georgia-based company that operates in at least 22 locations throughout Wisconsin. CLA sells short-term, high-interest title loans with annual percentage rates of over 300%. According to the State's complaint, CLA rolls the purchase price of CCC into a consumer's underlying loan, so the consumer ends up paying not just the cost of the product but 300%+ in high interest fees as well.
The case was filed on behalf of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions which administers the Wisconsin Consumer Act. Assistant Attorney General Nelle Rohlich is handling the matter for the Department of Justice.
Consumers who may have complaints against Wisconsin Auto Title Loans may contact Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, which is handling the Milwaukee County case at 414-727-5300 or the Wisconsin Department of Justice Consumer Hotline at (800) 998-0700.
A copy of the complaint is available at: