While working to protect our freedom, U.S. service members find themselves in the crosshairs of a predatory lender. On Tuesday, that lender was shut down.
Under the agreement, Rome Finance Company, working out of California and Georgia, must liquidate the business and provide more than $91 million in debt relief to at least 17,800 consumers, including more than 100 in Iowa. In addition the company has to mark all outstanding debt as paid-in-full.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced the deal saying he expects it will help more than 23,000 service members and veterans.
While Staff Sergeant James Wilson was fighting for our country in Afghanistan, the Rome Finance Company was taking a chunk out of his paycheck each month for a laptop computer he purchased through the company. The payments went on for years.
Sgt. Wilson, with the Air National Guard, said, “I just paid it thinking it was a debt for a service I received. I didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking about it. Four years later I was owing $2,500 for a laptop that I didn’t know cost $4,999. When priced online it was like $1,200, what a normal person would go out and buy for.”
Sgt. Wilson was on his way to paying $6,000 for the $1,200 computer but under the agreement involving Iowa and 12 other states the debt and thousands of others is now paid-in-full and the Rome Finance Company is out of business.
Miller said, “It’s just so wrong to treat members of the military this way, to sell them completely overpriced items with high interest rates with their military allotment, their basic pay, being part of what’s being paid out.”
Miller alleges that the company deliberately focused on active duty men and women.
Under the agreement the Rome Finance Company neither admits nor denies wrongdoing but it is barred from any future consumer lending.