Wis. AG wants to intervene in consumer protection case

Bryan Cohen May 24, 2011, 1:37am

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a motion to intervene Wednesday in a case against an auto title loan company over alleged Wisconsin Consumer Act violations.

The Milwaukee County Circuit Court case is against Community Loans of America. With the motion, the state filed a proposed complaint against CLA, doing business as Wisconsin Auto Title Loans, alleging the company engaged in deceptive and unconscionable conduct in the course of making auto title loans.

CLA operates out of 22 Wisconsin locations, marketing and selling title loans that have 300 plus annual percentage rates. The title loans in question in the case were short-term, high-interest loans secured by motor vehicle titles. CLA is a Georgia corporation that does business nationwide.

Van Hollen alleges that CLA engaged in deceptive and unconscionable conduct in the course of selling a purported motor services club, Continental Car Club with its loans. Under Wisconsin law, CCC can only be sold as an optional product, but consumers allegedly reported being unaware it was packed into their loans or being told the product was mandatory or a fee required by the loan.

"Wisconsin Auto Title Loans targets borrowers who have few, if any, other options to obtain credit. We will not stand by while it subjects these vulnerable individuals to fraudulent and abusive practices," Van Hollen said, "Enough is enough."

The complaint as an intervening party has been filed into the existing case in Milwaukee County, Jones, et. al vs. Wisconsin Auto Title Loans and Community Loans of America which involves close to identical issues of alleged fact and law. Van Hollen seeks injunctive relief and civil forfeitures.

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