If you’ve gotten a loan from LendUp, you might be entitled to a refund. Today, the San Francisco-based online lender Flurish, Inc., doing business as LendUp, was ordered to pay $3.6 million in refunds and civil penalties by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for failing to deliver the promised benefits of its products.
The CFPB said LendUp did not give consumers the opportunity to build credit and provide access to cheaper loans, as it claimed it would. The bureau has ordered the company to provide more than 50,000 consumers with approximately $1.83 million in refunds and pay a civil penalty of $1.8 million.
LendUp’s 50,000 consumers don’t need to take action to collect their $1.83 in refunds. LendUp is required to contact them individually in the coming months.
“LendUp pitched itself as a consumer-friendly, tech-savvy alternative to traditional payday loans, but it did not pay enough attention to the consumer financial laws,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray in a written statement.
According to the CFPB, despite billing itself as an opportunity to build credit, LendUp did not always report payments to credit bureaus. (That type of reporting is essential for people who want to build their credit —you can see where your credit stands by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 30 days, on Credit.com).
LendUp also allegedly misled consumers by advertising across the country that they’d eventually have the ability move up the lending ladder to loans with more favorable terms, such as lower rates and longer repayment periods, though the more favorable loans were not available outside of California for most of the company’s existence. It also didn’t disclose the annual percentage rate of the loans, as required by law, thereby hiding the true cost of the loan, according to the CFPB, which attests LendUp also reversed consumer pricing without knowledge and inaccurately understated finance charges.
In addition to the fines and refunds, the company must stop misrepresenting the benefits of the loans, review all of its marketing materials so it doesn’t mislead consumers and must regularly test the annual percentage rate in its disclosures to verify that it is correct. The $1.8 million in fines will go to CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.
Through a statement issued on its website, LendUp said the problems mostly stemmed from its earlier startup stages. “These regulatory actions address legacy issues that mostly date back to our early days as a company, when we were a seed-stage startup with limited resources and as few as five employees. In those days we didn’t have a fully built-out compliance department. We should have,” according to the LendUp statement.
LendUp went on to say it has been working to provide refunds to all affected customers, and graduated more than 20,000 customers to more favorable loans. Its current compliance team (of 10) and separate in-house legal team (of six) now routinely weigh in when each new product is introduced, said the company’s statement.