The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has provided its 2020 Annual Financial Acts Enforcement Report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on its enforcement and related activities regarding the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Consumer Leasing Act (CLA), and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA).
The report on TILA, CLA, and EFTA highlights, among other things, the FTC’s enforcement actions related to automobile purchases and financing, payday lending, credit repair and debt relief, and electronic fund transfers.
It also addresses the FTC’s research and policy efforts related to truth in lending, including the release of two staff reports based, in part, on a study of auto buyers conducted by the FTC that consisted of in-depth interviews with 38 consumers about the car buying and financing process. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection staff report notes that consumers were sometimes not aware of key terms of sales and financing practices, and points to issues that potentially keep them from having an accurate picture of the amount they are paying.
It also explains that later stages of the buying and financing process, including involving add-ons” like extended warranties, service plans and GAP (guaranteed asset protection), and meeting with the dealer’s financing office for additional negotiations after seemingly negotiating a price with a salesperson, also present issues.
A companion report issued jointly by the staff of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics and Bureau of Consumer Protection provides a detailed description of the study’s methodology and analysis of the results of the in-depth consumer interviews, discusses how the study fits within the existing framework of academic research into the car buying and financing process, and notes overall lessons from the study with areas where consumers did not understand the process, including what terms were negotiable, the terms and conditions of add-ons and other important terms in the transaction paperwork.
The report also discusses a staff perspective on the FTC’s prior small business financing forum, which outlines a number of topics discussed by participants in the forum, provides an overview of small business lending and the emergence of new online options to businesses seeking financing, and addresses potential benefits and consumer protection concerns around these online lending options for business.
The report highlights the agency’s Military Task Force, which comprises a cross-section of FTC representatives and focuses on various initiatives to assist military consumers. The report further outlines the FTC’s consumer and business education efforts on truth in lending and electronic fund transfer issues.
The FTC also has provided a copy of the report to the Federal Reserve Board.