MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) — Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell has announced Billing Tree Inc., an Arizona company that processes electronic payments, has agreed to pay $178,000 to settle allegations of violating state consumer protection laws.

“Vermont continues its strong prosecution against those engaged in predatory lending activities,” Sorrell said. “This is the fourth and largest settlement against a payment processor of high-interest, unlicensed internet loans and a further warning to the illegal lending industry.”

Billing Tree allegedly processed debits from 3,903 consumer bank accounts in Vermont on behalf of more than 43 online lenders of high interest loans between 2012 and 2014. Vermont law bans annual interest rates of more than 24 percent, yet many of these loans purportedly had interest rates that exceeded 100 to 300 percent. Additionally, none of the lenders involved had a Vermont lender license.

Of the $178,000 payment to settle the claims, $153,282 will go to Vermont bank accounts and $25,000 will go toward civil penalties and state costs. The bank account credits represent a partial refund for alleged victims of the scheme.

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