|October 6, 2016
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi, joined by 49 other attorneys general, announced a settlement with retailer USA Discounters, also doing business as USA Living and Fletcher’s Jewelers, to resolve allegations of deceptive trade practices against the company. More than $4 million in restitution will go to consumers in Florida. This settlement is expected to impact almost 3,000 Floridians.
USA Discounters sold consumer products, including appliances, computers, furniture, jewelry, smart phones, televisions, computers and other consumer goods principally on credit. The company typically advertised to military and government employees and their families, claiming they would never be denied credit for goods purchased from the retailer.
“This multistate settlement secures millions of dollars in restitution for consumers, including our military members in Florida and across the country,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Thanks to the joint efforts of my office and 49 other attorneys general, military consumers are better protected.”
The complaint alleges that USA Discounters sold overpriced household goods at high interest rates, often using the military allotment system to guarantee payment. The complaint also alleges that USA Discounters engaged in abusive debt collection practices and other deceptive, false and unfair trade practices by persistently contacting service members’ chains-of-command and, in some cases, causing service members to lose security clearances and face demotions. Additionally, no matter the service members’ location, deployment status or residence, USA Discounters allegedly only filed its collection lawsuits in a few Virginia jurisdictions. According to the complaint, USA Discounters’ unlawful business practices were achieved through misrepresentations and omissions in advertising, as well as, during the loan origination and collection processes.
Before declaring bankruptcy, USA Discounters closed its stores in the summer of 2015.
As part of the settlement, USA Discounters has agreed to provide relief to certain current and former customers. The total estimated value to consumers for these restitution measures is more than $95 million, primarily benefiting service members.
USA Discounters agreed to:
- Write off all accounts with balances for customers whose last contract was dated June 1, 2012 or earlier, and correct negative comments from the company on those consumers’ credit reports. This totals more than $70 million;
- Apply a $100 credit to all accounts whose contracts were dated after June 1, 2012, which were not discharged in bankruptcy, and correct negative comments from the company on those consumers’ credit reports. This totals more than $2.5 million;
- Write off all judgments not obtained in the correct state, and correct negative comments from the company on those consumers’ credit reports. This totals more than $20 million;
- Credit all judgments obtained in the correct state against members of the military with a credit equal to 50 percent of the original judgment amount. This totals more than $700,000; and
- Pay a penalty of $40 million to the states. This $40 million penalty will be subordinated to all secured, administrative, priority and unsecured claims that are allowed in the bankruptcy case.
To view the settlement, click here.