Auchterlonie, Sarah

Sarah Auchterlonie’s expertise is consumer finance and banking. She presently sits on the Colorado Banking Board and was previously an attorney with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), as well as an acting deputy enforcement director with the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (CFPB) Office of Enforcement. Recently,  Sarah co-authored the legal treatise, Consumer Finance Law and Compliance. She provides expert witness testimony on consumer finance regulatory issues and represents clients in regulatory proceedings and civil lawsuits.

Sarah along with a team of intellectual property, employment and corporate attorneys are responsible for the licensing, start-up or acquisition of dozens of financial technology business lines, including mortgage lenders, alternative financing, online lending, debt repayment, credit repair and cryptocurrencies.

As one of the few private practice attorneys in the nation with her combination of banking and consumer protection experience, Sarah represents companies in government investigations by state attorneys generals, the CFPB, state financial services departments and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In consumer injury matters and contract disputes involving consumer finance products and services, Sarah’s knowledge of financial regulations makes her a formidable litigator and gifted issue-spotter. She lends that knowledge to several American Indian tribal governments as they build and expand their consumer financial protection regulation, supervision and enforcement agencies.

Sarah’s notable work includes handling the CFPB's first administrative proceeding and appeal to the bureau director, In the Matter of PHH Corp., as well as ECOA settlements with mortgage lenders, FCRA investigations of lenders and credit reporting agencies, and FDCPA matters with debt collection firms.

Sarah’ s compliance expertise includes most aspects of secured and unsecured consumer finance origination (TILA and ECOA); the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC); mortgages and mortgage servicing (TRID); electronic payments (EFTA, NACHA and PCI); financial information privacy and reporting (GLBA and FCRA); debt collection (FDCPA); real estate settlement procedures act (RESPA); payday, auto-title and small-dollar installment lending (UCCC and Tribal Law); multiple CFPB, FTC and Federal Reserve regulations (e.g., Reg. B, Reg. E, Reg. X, Reg. Z); unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP); Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering Act (BSA/AML); releasing confidential supervisory information (CSI); the Freedom of Information Act and state sunshine laws (FOIA and CORA); investigations of bank employee conduct (IAPs); brokered deposits and bank liquidity issues (FDIC Act); acquiring money transmission licenses (MTL); and investigations arising from the financial crisis.

Prior to government service, Sarah was a regulatory litigation associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP where she worked on finance and antitrust matters.

Practices & Industries

We represent bank and non-bank financial institutions in front of the following agencies:

  • Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB)
  • California Attorney General
  • California Department of Business Oversight (DBO)
  • Colorado Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC)
  • Colorado Attorney General
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Florida Attorney General
  • Florida Department of Financial Institutions
  • Idaho Attorney General
  • Illinois Attorney General
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney
  • Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Montana Attorney General
  • Nevada Attorney General
  • Nevada Department of Financial Institutions
  • New Mexico Attorney General
  • New York Attorney General
  • Orange County District Attorney
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General
  • San Diego County District Attorney
  • Virginia Attorney General
  • Washington, DC Attorney General
  • Wisconsin Attorney General
  • Utah Department of Financial Services
Representative Matters
  • Advised a high-end regional retailer in a matter with the Colorado Attorney General's Uniform Consumer Credit Code Administrator in an investigation regarding its "house account" loans. Brownstein attorneys advocated to the state that the client's loans were only incidental to its retail trade, therefore it was not under the UCCC Administrator's authority. In addition, the Brownstein team revised loan agreements and disclosures to ensure that it's client employs lending best practices.

  • Represent multiple nationwide financial services companies before the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) Administrator and other state attorneys general on issues including the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z (Reg Z), credit insurance, the Telephone Solicitation Rule (TSR) and state law equivalents, partnership agreements with banks and licensed brokers, mortgage origination, as well as other provisions of the Colorado UCCC and state law. Through early understanding of issues and straightforward discussions with regulators, Sarah’s team guides companies to fair and efficient resolutions with lending regulators. The Brownstein team has a local presence with regulators in California, Colorado, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

  • Counsel to a major online financial services referral website in transaction due diligence with respect to its acquisition of a credit repair and advisory business. We reviewed the transaction for contract compliance; drafted specific agreement provisions to protect the buyer in the event of a data breach or failures in PCI compliance; and ensured that the acquisition target was properly licensed and had all necessary state approvals to close the deal.

  • Filed a lawsuit against a major credit card bank for failing to properly investigate and respond to the client’s credit card fraud disputes arising from a money laundering conspiracy. This case involves vindicating customer rights under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Utah tort laws of negligence and misrepresentation related to onboarding and vetting credit card merchants.

  • Enhanced operational efficiency for a lender and fiduciary loan servicer in the real estate market to streamline policies and procedures related to consumer privacy, attorney-represented debtors, and debt settlement and credit repair organizations (CROA). This project required analysis of the Telephone Solicitation Rule Advance Fee Ban (TSR), FDCPA, and the 50+ state and territory debt collection laws and regulations which might apply to creditors and fiduciaries that collect on their own accounts. The end product is a detailed policy and procedure portfolio to ensure compliant and effective handling of past-due accounts.

  • Counsel to Restore, a fintech startup that helps consumers with defaulted debt pay-off old accounts through loyalty shopping rewards. We guided the founders through the maze of FDCPA, FCRA, GLBA and state law requirements to build the operations functions and compliance program. for Restoretm. She advised this firm from inception through launch, and now supports Restoretm in its continuing efforts to help millions of American consumers repay old debts through this innovative loyalty rewards program.

  • Act as outside financial services regulator for federally-recognized American Indian Tribes. Tribes are sovereigns that must have their own government regulators to make sure business operations within their boundaries are legal and safe. Sarah and her team use her experience standing up the CFPB to stand-up regulatory commissions with similar supervision and enforcement authorities as the CFPB and state departments of finance. This work ensures that tribal lender consumers receive the same regulatory protections as state-licensed lenders and that tribal governments exercise control and direction of their economic development projects.

  • Advise three federally-recognized American Indian Tribes’ regulatory commissions on the supervision and enforcement of Tribal Financial Services Codes for financial technology and lending firms under Tribal jurisdiction.

  • Counsel to Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver in the start-up and license for a stand-alone mortgage lending and servicing affiliate. Our representation included entity creation, transfer of mortgage assets between affiliates, and the creation and implementation of policies, procedures, and disclosures necessary for state and federal consumer financial protection compliance.

  • Counsel to CoinLion, a trading and portfolio management platform that allows users to easily and efficiently manage and trade cryptocurrency in its compliance, licensing, and consumer-facing materials.

  • Successfully represented as amici the lending regulatory commission of an American Indian Tribe, the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, in a lawsuit filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, alleging that lenders regulated by the commission violated federal unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP) prohibitions because the tribally-owned and regulated lenders did not comply with some states’ lending laws. The lenders filed a motion to dismiss. Instead of responding to the arguments raised by the lenders, the Commission, and others, the Bureau filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.

News & Events

Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver

Public Member, Board of Directors, Colorado State Banking Board

Former Adjunct Professor, Sturm College of Law, University of Denver

Former Cub Scout Den Leader, Boy Scouts of AmericaAdmissions

Publications & Presentations
  • J.D., 2002, Washington University School of Law
  • B.L.S., 1998, University of South Dakota, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Colorado