Olympia – The Consumer Services Division of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has charged Quicken Loans, Inc. of Michigan with targeting Washington servicemembers and veterans with mortgage offers using false, deceptive, and misleading ads. DFI highlighted the fact that Quicken Loans falsely implied they were associated with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). A copy of the Statement of Charges issued by DFI, and a sample direct mail solicitation, is available here.
During 2014, Quicken Loans distributed more than 60 different direct mail solicitations in Washington, offering Washington servicemembers and veterans the opportunity to obtain VA guaranteed mortgage loans. The solicitations contained numerous violations of state and federal laws prohibiting false, deceptive, and misleading advertising.
“Washington’s service members and veterans are entitled to truthful representations concerning their VA loans,” DFI Consumer Services Director Charles E. Clark said. “Deceptive advertising relating to VA loans not only misleads consumers, it harms competition, and takes business away from law-abiding mortgage brokers and lenders. We will not tolerate deceptive mortgage advertising.”
DFI charged Quicken Loans with using graphics in its solicitations designed to resemble the seal of the VA, including the use of the phrase “GOVERNED BY: UNITED STATES VETERANS DEPARTMENT.” They also used an official-looking emblem, identified by Quicken Loans as the “VA Distressed Red Eagle Stamp” depicting an eagle surrounded by a circle of stars.
“State and federal law has prohibited the use of official looking seals and emblems in mortgage advertising for years,” Clark continued. “While Quicken Loans has policies and procedures designed to prevent advertising violations, they failed to follow those policies. DFI intends to prevent further advertising of VA loans in Washington by Quicken Loans until it can demonstrate, to our satisfaction, that it has systems in place that are reasonably designed to detect and prevent the distribution of any false, deceptive, or misleading advertising.”
NOTE: The Consumer Loan Act authorizes the Director to file charges against companies believed to have violated the Act. The charges are not a finding or order that the respondent has actually violated the Act; the named respondent has the right to request an administrative hearing on the charges.