US CFPB Fines LendUp for Misleading Practices

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has imposed a fine on LendUp, a San Francisco-based online lender, for misleading borrowers about the true cost of borrowing. The company, which offers short-term loans at high interest rates to consumers who often have poor credit scores, has been accused of violating federal consumer protection laws.


The lending industry in the US has been under scrutiny for years due to the prevalence of misleading and predatory lending practices. In recent years, online lenders have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional banks and credit unions, offering quick and easy access to loans without the need for collateral or a good credit score. However, the lack of regulation in this sector has led to a number of abuses, including hidden fees, excessive interest rates, and misleading advertising.

LendUp’s Business Model

LendUp was founded in 2012 with the aim of providing a fairer and more transparent alternative to payday loans, which are known for their exorbitant interest rates and aggressive collection practices. The company offers short-term loans to consumers who have a low credit score or no credit history, with the promise of helping them build their credit rating over time. LendUp claims to be different from other online lenders because it doesn’t require collateral, and it offers lower interest rates to repeat borrowers.

Allegations of Misleading Practices

However, according to the CFPB, LendUp misled its customers about the true cost of borrowing. The company advertised its loans as having no hidden fees and a low annual percentage rate (APR), but in reality, borrowers were charged significant fees that were not clearly disclosed upfront. For example, LendUp charged a fee of up to $30 for each $100 borrowed, which would add up to an effective APR of up to 917% for a 14-day loan. In addition, the company allegedly failed to credit borrowers for making timely payments, which would have enabled them to access lower interest rates over time.

CFPB Investigation and Settlement

The CFPB launched an investigation into LendUp’s practices in 2016, and the company agreed to pay a fine of $3.63 million to settle the charges. In addition, LendUp was ordered to refund $1.83 million to customers who were overcharged, and to provide clearer information about the true cost of borrowing in its marketing materials. The company also agreed to improve its internal compliance systems and to undergo regular audits to ensure it was following federal consumer protection laws.

Implications for Online Lenders

The CFPB’s action against LendUp sends a strong message to other online lenders that they must comply with federal consumer protection laws or face stiff penalties. The agency has been cracking down on the lending industry in recent years, and it has imposed fines on a number of other companies for deceptive or abusive practices. However, some critics argue that the CFPB’s actions may stifle innovation in the fintech industry and make it more difficult for underserved consumers to access credit.


In conclusion, LendUp’s misleading practices have resulted in a significant fine from the CFPB, highlighting the need for greater regulation and oversight in the online lending industry. While the company may have had good intentions in offering a fairer alternative to payday loans, it ultimately fell short in its obligations to be transparent and upfront about the true cost of borrowing. As the lending industry continues to evolve, it will be important for regulators to strike a balance between promoting innovation and protecting consumers from deceptive or predatory practices.

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