Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Federal consumer watchdog looking into auto lender Marlin Financial

A federal agency is looking into online auto lender Marlin Financial. In a letter to Rep. Charlie Crist dated Tuesday, the head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection called the findings of a Tampa Bay Times’ investigation into the lender "troubling," and indicated that the federal agency was following up.

"The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is aware of these reports and is evaluating actions we might take in response," Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the bureau, said.

Last month, Crist called for a federal investigation following the Times’ report, which found that Marlin customers felt pushed into purchasing an optional product that could spike the interest rate on the company’s loans over state limits — in one case, triple the legal limit.

Previous coverage: Rep. Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial

Marlin customers also complained that they were unable to retrieve their possessions from repossessed cars, which is against state law.

The Florida Attorney General separately is investigating Marlin.

Marlin did not return a request for comment through its lawyer late Thursday.

Read the investigation: Customers say Marlin Financial’s auto loans are deceptive. Now the state is investigating

"Let this be a flashing red warning sign to all who would take advantage of the people," Crist said in a release Thursday. "Your days of financial abuse are numbered."

Crist encouraged Marlin customers who felt wronged by the company to "make their voices heard" and submit complaints to the federal consumer wtachdog at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaints.

The bureau, Mulvaney said in his letter, does not confirm or comment on any "supervisory activity or investigations," but it takes allegations of "unfair, deceptive or abusive lending practices very seriously."

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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