A company being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for allegedly overcharging active duty service members says it addressed all the problems three years ago and refunded the money to service members — after reporting the problems on its own to CFPB.
“In 2017, LendUp proactively self-reported issues to the CFPB that impacted less than half a percent of our service member transactions,” said LendUp Loans officials, in a statement provided to Military Times.
“For impacted customers, LendUp refunded all interest and fees, whether or not mistakenly collected,” officials stated. In addition, the lender removed all inaccurate information they had previously provided to credit-reporting agencies about delinquencies on these loans.
In 2017, LendUp stopped making loans to active-duty service members, company officials stated. Yet the CFPB asked for an injunction to require LendUp to stop committing violations of the Military Lending Act; and to correct inaccurate information to credit-reporting agencies about delinquent loans. In a statement provided to Military Times, CFPB officials said they don’t comment on pending litigation.
In a lawsuit filed Dec. 4 in federal court, the CFPB accuses LendUp Loans, LLC, of Oakland, Calif., of charging in excess of 36 percent annual percentage rate to active duty members and dependents, as well as other violations of the Military Lending Act. The allegations involved more than 4,000 loans made to more than 1,200 borrowers since October, 2016, according to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.
Neither the CFPB press release nor their complaint filed in court mentioned that the company had self-reported the issues to CFPB, and had already taken corrective measures. The press release stated that the complaint “is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has violated the law.”
CFPB alleges that in addition to violating the 36 percent APR cap, LendUp extended loans that require military borrowers to submit to arbitration, and failed to make certain required disclosures about the loans, including a statement of the applicable Military APR.
The lawsuit asks the court to require LendUp to pay unspecified damages, restitution and other monetary relief to consumers; to rescind consumer-credit agreements that were allegedly void from the beginning; and impose a civil money penalty on LendUp. It asks the court to require LendUp to permanently stop committing future violations, and to require the lender to correct inaccurate information to credit-reporting agencies about delinquent accounts or amounts of money owed under the consumer credit agreements that were allegedly void from the beginning.
LendUp officials contend they addressed those issues in 2017.
“The issue was fully remedied in 2017 and is not ongoing,” LendUp said in its statement. “LendUp ceased making MLA non-compliant loans in 2017. We do not offer loans to active service members today.”
LendUp relies on a third-party company to screen out applications from active duty service members, according to a company spokesperson.
In its press release, CFPB stated the action is part of a broader sweep of investigations of multiple lenders that may be violating the Military Lending Act, a law passed in 2006 to protect active duty members and their dependents from predatory lenders. Among other things, it limits the interest rate that can be charged to 36 percent annual percentage rate.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.