washington d.c. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a proposed order to resolve its allegations that Performance SLC, a student debt relief company, and Performance Settlement, a general debt settlement company debt, along with their owner and CEO, Daniel Crenshaw, engage in abusive billing practices and deceptive telemarketing. Performance SLC illegally collected upfront payments from borrowers and failed to provide required information. Performance Settlement settled debts without required consumer authorization and tricked some consumers into signing up for its debt resolution services. If issued by the court, the judgment would permanently ban Performance SLC from debt relief services and ban Crenshaw from debt relief services for five years. It would also prohibit Performance Settlement from certain loan settlement and lead generation activities.
All three defendants are based in California. Crenshaw is the CEO and sole owner of Performance SLC and the CEO and majority owner of Performance Settlement. Performance Settlement is a general debt settlement company that negotiates the settlement of consumer unsecured debt for a fee of 25% of the registered debt amount. Performance SLC provided consumers with federal student loan debt relief services by processing and submitting the necessary documents for them to apply for loan consolidation, loan repayment and loan forgiveness programs offered by the US Department of Education (ED). Performance SLC ceased operations in 2020.
On November 5, 2020, the CFPB filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California against Performance SLC, Performance Settlement and Crenshaw. The Bureau alleges that Performance SLC and Crenshaw charged more than 9,000 consumers with approximately $10.5 million in federal student loan debt in illegal up-front charges. The Bureau also alleges that Crenshaw and Performance Settlement used deceptive sales tactics to enroll some consumers in debt relief services. Specifically, the Bureau alleges that:
- Performance SLC charged an illegal upfront fee. Performance SLC has provided federal student loan debt relief services to consumers nationwide by processing and submitting the necessary paperwork for them to apply for loan consolidation, loan repayment, and loan consolidation programs. loan cancellation offered by ED. ED does not charge consumers to apply for or participate in these programs. Performance SLC charged upfront fees ranging from $1,000 to $1,450 before its customers made a payment under their new loan terms.
- Performance Settlement incentivized clients to pay for debt relief services. In calls with some customers, Performance Settlement sales agents told them that the company “qualified” and “guaranteed” personal loans. After obtaining their financial and personal information, the sales agents informed the customers that they had been refused for the personal loan. This was a ruse designed to trick these people into signing up for the company’s debt resolution services. Sales agents were telling customers that their best option was to register with Performance Settlement for debt resolution services. Approximately 400 people incurred over $700,000 in collective costs due to Performance Settlement’s deceptive marketing.
Crenshaw both participated directly in the violations and had the power to control them. As CEO and sole proprietor of Performance SLC, Crenshaw oversaw all of its managers and was involved in creating its policies and procedures, reviewing payment reports, overseeing collections and receiving complaints from consumers deemed credible for elevation. As majority owner and CEO of Performance Settlement, Crenshaw oversaw the company’s executives, helped create its sales policies, procedures, and scripts, and regularly monitored the company’s customer trust and sales accounts. .
Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB has the power to take action against institutions that violate consumer financial laws, including by engaging in acts or practices unfair, misleading or abusive. In addition to allegedly violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the defendants’ actions allegedly violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The order, if made by the court, would require:
- Defendants must stop performing debt relief and settlement activities. The order would permanently bar Performance SLC from debt relief services, bar Crenshaw from debt relief services for five years, and permanently bar Performance Settlement from obtaining referrals from companies claiming to grant or arrange loans.
- Crenshaw to pay a fine of $30,000. Crenshaw would pay a $30,000 fine to the CFPB, which would be deposited into the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.
The Bureau will endeavor to provide full Civil Penalty Fund relief to eligible aggrieved consumers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that implements and enforces federal consumer finance law and ensures that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent and competitive. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.