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NC AG sues company accused of using predatory lending practices, company responds

North Carolina’s attorney general has sued a finance company accused of tacking on additional products they didn’t know about and didn’t agree to buy.

Attorney General Josh Stein said in 2019 alone, Mariner Finance charged consumers $121.7 million nationwide in premiums and fees for add-on products, not including all of the additional interest Mariner earned on the add-on premiums and fees.

The multistate lawsuit alleges that Mariner Finance employees did not mention add-on products or blatantly misrepresented them when talking to customers, adding hundreds to thousands of dollars to the total amount a borrower owed through these add-on products and fees.

The lawsuit also alleges that Mariner Finance engages in illegal, aggressive sales tactics to extend credit to new borrowers.

Mariner Financial has 39 branches in North Carolina. Borrowers who believe they have been deceived by Mariner’s harmful practices should file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division.

Meanwhile, a Mariner Finance spokesman has released a statement in response to the lawsuit.

“These are the same claims that have been reviewed and vetted by multiple agencies over the past six years, without a single finding of wrongdoing by any authoritative body. Mariner Finance has continuously disputed the claims throughout this exhaustive process and will continue to defend itself as an important provider of credit options to those who may have limited access to other sources of consumer credit. Mariner has been and continues to be committed to compliance regarding all state and federal regulations, holding itself to a high standard of customer care.

“Mariner has cooperated with the investigation and provided information that clearly demonstrates the legality of its products and the vital support they provide to consumers. The meritless allegations are based on minimal consumer interviews, the details of which were never shared with Mariner, and reflect a misunderstanding of the law, or simply a decision by the additional parties to disregard evidence which negates their claims.

“The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) conducted a comprehensive follow-on two-year investigation of these allegations as did other state attorneys general. All of these investigations have been closed with no action taken by any of these agencies. Even as additional parties have ignored the outcome of these investigations, a full and fair consideration of the facts at hand should lead to this matter being closed with no further action.”

A copy of the complaint is available here: https://ncdoj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/86-Second-Amended-Complaint.pdf

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to eastern North Carolina in 2019 to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of kiddo cuddling, reading, and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.