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Date of Action: 2/26/2014
On February 26, 2014, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, Inc., headquartered in Carmel, Indiana for allegations that the ITT staff of campus financial aid offices (Financial Aid Staff) engaged in predatory, high pressure tactics to push students into private student loans that were likely to end in default. , Some of the alleged aggressive tactics include removing students from class or withholding course materials or transcripts to get students to sign for these private loans, as well as failure to disclose finance charges associated with temporary credit installment plans and other finance charges. These staff members were compensated based in part on how many students were forced into private loan plans, some of which were sources exclusive to ITT students. The complaint alleges for the years 2010 through 2012, ITT represented through television and Internet advertising, as well as in oral and written marketing material, that ITT and the education it provided would help students obtain better jobs, claiming 70% job placement rates for its graduates. According to the complaint, those figures were based on selective data and incomplete information that did not represent realistic outcomes for most ITT students. The lawsuit also alleges misleading representations about ITT's Accreditation and transferability of earned credits. The complaint alleges ITT took unreasonable advantage of the inability of ITT students to protect their interests in selecting or using the ITT private loans in violation of the CFPA's prohibition against abusive practices by taking control of the complex financial aid process, using aggressive financial re-packaging tactics, including the threat of expulsion, and that ITT took unreasonable advantage of ITT students' reasonable reliance on ITT to act in their interest.
The Consumer Financial Bureau requests that the court award equitable relief, restitution against affected consumers, injunctive relief, disgorgement, rescission, civil money penalties, plaintiff costs and additional relief as the Court may determine to be just and proper.
In response to these charges, the business provided the following statement:
"ITT Educational Services, Inc. believes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's complaint should never have been filed. The complaint overwhelmingly focuses on issues that are unrelated to consumer finance, and attempts to cast a negative light on aspects of ITT Tech's activities that are extensively regulated by other government agencies. The core claims concern a mere six months of loans, but the Bureau knows that independent third parties provided those loans, and the loan programs ended years ago. Significantly, ITT Tech did not make any money, in interest or fees, from those third-party programs, which were designed to help students during the recent economic downturn. We are disappointed that the Bureau chose to sue rather than work with ITT Tech to address any legitimate concerns about efforts to help students pay for their education.
ITT Tech has been educating students since 1969 - more than a million students to date - and approximately 57,000 students are currently enrolled. Many of ITT Tech's students are veterans, single parents, and others underserved by traditional educational opportunities, which do not fit their life situations. ITT Tech's graduates are employed by many of America's leading companies, and we take pride in our relationships with the wide array of employers that hire our graduates. In fact, more than 14,000 different employers hired an ITT Tech graduate in the last two years.
Contrary to the Bureau's allegations, ITT Tech did not "coerce" its students into unfair loans, or "rush" them through the financial aid process. Much of the complaint relies on "mystery shoppers" - a program that ITT Tech itself voluntarily uses to make sure its policies are being followed by its employees, and to help ensure that errors in implementation are caught and corrected. The "mystery shopper" program gives ITT Tech the information to retrain or even terminate employees as appropriate. The complaint presents excerpts from the "mystery shopper" program without any context, giving isolated anecdotes that are examples of the conduct the program is designed to root out and eliminate.
The complaint is an aggressive attempt by the Bureau, recently created by the Dodd-Frank Act, to extend its jurisdiction into matters well beyond consumer finance. It is unjustified as a matter of law and mistaken as a matter of fact. ITT Tech believes the complaint is without merit and we intend to vigorously contest the Bureau's theories in court.
While we will dedicate the necessary resources to defend ourselves against these meritless claims, the ongoing focus of our more than 10,000 employees across the Nation remains on assisting our students' efforts to complete their programs of study successfully and obtain employment in their chosen fields. We are extremely proud of our work over the last 45 years and we intend to continue our mission."
This action is currently pending.
http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201402 cfpb complaint ITT.pdf