Companies to Pay $200,000 for Delaying Payments on Debts That Had Already Been Sold
The companies do business throughout the United States under the names Fingerhut and Gettington.com
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Bluestem Brands, Inc.; Bluestem Enterprises, Inc.; and Bluestem Sales, Inc. (the Bluestem companies), have filed an administrative consent order resolving CFPB allegations that after consumers made payments to the Bluestem companies on debts that the companies had already sold, the Bluestem companies substantially delayed sending those payments to the third-party debt buyers.
The Bluestem companies will also pay a civil penalty of $200,000. The Bluestem companies are headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and do business throughout the United States under the names Fingerhut and Gettington.com.
In the consent order, the CFPB found that the Bluestem companies violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 by unfairly delaying the transfer of payments that customers had made to the Bluestem companies on charged-off accounts to the third-party debt buyers who had purchased those accounts. The CFPB found that between 2013 and 2016, Bluestem delayed forwarding payments for more than 31 days in 18,000 instances; in 3,500 of those instances, Bluestem delayed forwarding payments for more than a year. These delays likely subjected customers to misleading collection activity, including collection activity on accounts that they had completely paid off.
About The Order
The consent order requires the Bluestem companies to improve their processes to timely identify and forward customer payments on accounts that they have sold to third-party debt buyers. The companies must also improve their processes to prevent consumers from making payments by phone or on the companies' websites on sold accounts. And they must notify customers who do make payments to the Bluestem companies, for example by mailed check, on sold accounts that their accounts have been sold.