Marlin Financial has stopped taking new customers as state investigators scrutinize its business practices.
The online auto lender at the center of a Florida Attorney General investigation has a note on its website that it is “no longer accepting new loan applications” as of the end of September.
The company offered no further explanation and did not elaborate after the Tampa Bay Times contacted its attorney on Tuesday.
A Times investigation published Sept. 14 revealed that Marlin’s loan practices apparently broke the law as it stuck consumers with much more debt than expected, charged interest rates above state limits and deprived some customers of access to items in their repossessed cars.
“We need to send a clear message that if you abuse consumers, you will be held accountable,” U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, said Tuesday in a statement to the Times regarding Marlin’s halt.
“A (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) investigation into Marlin Financial will shine an even brighter light on deceptive practices, protecting the people from fraud, and making victims whole again,” he said.
Last week, Crist called for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to look into Marlin following the Times’ investigation. In a letter to the bureau’s director, Mick Mulvaney, Crist said he was “disturbed” by the findings of the Times’ report, and urged Mulvaney to investigate further for violations under federal law.
Marlin is still an active company in Florida business records, and still has an active consumer finance company license with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.