WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) —The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced Jan. 30 that it has filed a complaint in federal court against a group of law firms and attorneys who allegedly collaborated to charge illegal fees to consumers seeking debt relief.
The defendants are Howard Law P.C., the Williamson Law Firm LLC, and Williamson & Howard LLP, as well as attorneys Vincent Howard and Lawrence Williamson.
Howard Law and Williamson & Howard are law firms in Orange County, California. The Williamson Law Firm is registered in Kansas. Vincent Howard is the president of Howard Law, and Lawrence Williamson is the head lawyer at Williamson Law Firm. Both are part owners of Williamson & Howard.
According to allegations, the defendants violated Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibitions against fee charges until after a debt relief provider has settled, and reduced or changed the terms of at least one consumer’s debts. The defendants purportedly deceived consumers about an illegal upfront fee.
“The defendants exploited consumers who were already suffering financial difficulties by tricking them into paying steep, illegal fees,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “We put a stop to this scam once already, and we intend to do it again.”