Sovereign Lending Group, Inc.
On July 24, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) issued a consent order against Sovereign Lending Group, Inc. (Sovereign), a California corporation that is licensed as a mortgage broker or lender in about 44 states and the District of Columbia. Sovereign offers and provides mortgage loans guaranteed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Sovereign’s principal means of advertising is through direct-mail campaigns targeted primarily at United States military servicemembers and veterans. The Bureau found that Sovereign sent consumers hundreds of thousands of mailers for VA-guaranteed mortgages that contained false, misleading, and inaccurate statements or that lacked required disclosures, in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s (CFPA) prohibition against deceptive acts and practices, the Mortgage Acts and Practices–Advertising Rule (MAP Rule), and Regulation Z. Specifically, Sovereign sent consumers numerous advertisements for VA-guaranteed mortgages that, among other things, misrepresented the credit terms of the advertised mortgage, misleadingly described an adjustable-rate mortgage as having a “fixed” rate, falsely stated that the consumer had been prequalified for the advertised mortgage, created the false impression that Sovereign was affiliated with the government, used the name of the consumer’s current lender in a misleading way, and failed to include multiple disclosures required by Regulation Z. The consent order requires Sovereign to pay a $460,000 civil money penalty and imposes requirements to prevent future violations.
This action stems from a Bureau sweep of investigations of multiple mortgage companies that use deceptive mailers to advertise VA-guaranteed mortgages.
On July 24, 2020, the Bureau issued a consent order against Prime Choice Funding, Inc., a California corporation, for similar violations.