A professional group of online payday lenders have started searching the internet for sites making misleading claims, in an effort to clean up the reputation of an industry plagued by complaints from consumer groups and regulators .
The Online Lender Alliance, which represents short-term lenders and the businesses that refer clients to them, kicked off the new monitoring project after The Times reported in May that many websites advertising the Online loans say that customers are not subjected to a credit check.
Last month, OLA hired an outside company to create a program that will search the Web for sites using the term “no credit checks.” The group is now selecting sites controlled by lenders or loan advertisers and asking them to withdraw any “no credit check” claims and resolve other issues. visit our site to learn about more on this type of loan
OLA chief executive Lisa McGreevy said the group has done similar monitoring work in the past, but only manually – typing various terms into web searches, browsing sites and looking for deceptive or misleading language. ‘other bad practices.
This is the first time that the group has tried a more systematic approach.
“We’re trying to be the cop on the beat,” McGreevy said. “We’re not interested in having bad actors or people doing fraudulent business by giving our good lenders a bad name.”
The Times story that sparked the movement focused on a lawsuit illustrating increased regulatory interest in the online and payday lending industries, as well as the potential consequences for lenders or advertisers who make claims. misleading.
In December, the Federal Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection sued T3Leads, a Burbank brokerage that sells consumer loan applications to lenders online.
The bureau alleged in the lawsuit that T3Leads does not properly monitor claims made by lead generators – sites that collect information from consumers looking for loans.
The lawsuit focused on advertisers’ claims about loan rates and terms, which the bureau says can lure customers into bad deals. But McGreevy said that “no credit check” claims are almost never true, and the sites that make them help perpetuate the idea that the industry is dishonest.
While online payday lenders typically don’t pull a full credit report from one of the major credit bureaus, they will usually use other methods that qualify as a credit check, McGreevy said, making any claims. Deceptive “no credit check”.
We’re trying to be the cop on the beat. We are not interested in having bad actors or people doing fraudulent business by giving our good lenders a bad name.
OLA Director General, Lisa McGreevy
Additionally, sites making this claim are likely to have other issues as well.
“When sites have one thing wrong, they probably have other things that are wrong,” McGreevy said.
Much of that oversight, she admitted, is work that lenders should already be doing. It’s up to lenders, she said, to make sure they buy customer information from companies that play by the rules.
But McGreevy said it’s hard to stay ahead of sites that can change minute to minute.
“Staying in the know is a constant monitoring challenge,” she said. “Every part of our industry needs to look at what’s going on.”
Once the trade group identifies a site making a “no credit check” claim, she said the OLA will look for other language or site elements that go against the group’s rules. For example, she said that sites that force customers to agree to something often include a checkbox, but shady sites will sometimes check boxes automatically.
When the group finds a site with problems, McGreevy said the OLA will send a notice to site operators, asking them to fix the issues – or else. This applies to both OLA members and non-members alike, she said.
“Anytime I find someone who is a bad actor, I will report it to our members, law enforcement and regulators so that they cannot commit their fraud,” she said.
Members who fail to bring their sites into compliance could be kicked out of the group, she said, while non-members could lose business. If OLA believes that a loan advertising site is breaking the rules, group members – including lenders and lead brokers, such as T3Leads – are not expected to purchase customer information from those sites.
If they do, it could lead those lenders to be kicked out of the trade group or to regulatory headaches like the type of lawsuit T3Leads now faces.
The OLA estimates that its members account for about 80% of the country’s online small dollar lending volume.
The OLA begins by researching “no credit check” claims, but McGreevy said she plans to continue the monitoring program and possibly research other misleading terms.
Aaron Rieke of consultancy firm Upturn, which released a report last year criticizing the way credit loan generators do business, said he was encouraged to see OLA take a step toward stricter enforcement of its policies. policies, although it is unclear how effective the group’s efforts are. will be.
“Anything they can do to be more proactive in controlling misrepresentation is helpful,” he said. “But how many bad actors are going to respond to OLA demands?”