WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that LendUp Loans has agreed to halt making any new loans and collecting on certain outstanding loans, as well as to pay a penalty, to resolve a September 2021 lawsuit alleging that it continued to engage in illegal and deceptive marketing in violation of a 2016 CFPB order. The lawsuit also accuses LendUp of violating fair lending regulations.
“LendUp was backed by some of the biggest names in venture capital,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We are shuttering the lending operations of this fintech for repeatedly lying and illegally cheating its customers.”
LendUp Loans, headquartered in Oakland, California, offered single-payment and installment loans to consumers online and pitched itself as an alternative to payday lenders. LendUp attracted equity and debt investments from prominent investors, including Google Ventures, Andreessen Horwitz, Kleiner Perkins, PayPal Holdings, and QED Investors.
A central component of LendUp’s marketing and brand identity was the “LendUp Ladder.” LendUp told consumers that by repaying loans on time and taking free courses offered through its website, consumers would move up the “LendUp Ladder” and, in turn, receive lower interest rates on future loans and access to larger loan amounts. As alleged in the complaint, in reality, as tens of thousands of LendUp’s customers climbed the “LendUp Ladder,” they failed to qualify for larger loan amounts and continued to be offered similar or higher interest rates compared to previous loans.
LendUp has been subject to multiple enforcement actions by the CFPB. In addition to ordering LendUp in 2016 to stop misrepresenting the benefits of borrowing from the company, the CFPB sued LendUp in 2020 for allegedly violating the Military Lending Act and obtained a judgment against LendUp in that action. In September 2021, the CFPB filed this third action alleging that LendUp:
- Deceived consumers about the benefits of repeat borrowing: LendUp misrepresented the benefits of repeatedly borrowing from the company by advertising that borrowers who climbed the LendUp Ladder would gain access to larger loans at lower rates when, in fact, that was not true for tens of thousands of consumers.
- Violated the CFPB’s 2016 order: The CFPB’s 2016 order prohibits LendUp from misrepresenting the benefits of borrowing from the company. LendUp’s continued misrepresentations about the LendUp Ladder violate this order.
- Failed to provide timely and accurate adverse-action notices required by fair lending laws: Adverse-action notices inform consumers why they were denied credit. Timely and accurate notices are vital to maintain a transparent underwriting process and protect consumers against credit discrimination. LendUp failed to provide adverse-action notices within the 30 days required by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) for over 7,400 loan applicants. LendUp also issued over 71,800 adverse-action notices that failed to accurately describe the main reasons why LendUp denied the applications as required by ECOA and Regulation B.
To resolve these allegations, the CFPB filed a proposed stipulated final judgment and order that, if entered by the court, would prohibit LendUp from (1) making new loans; (2) collecting on outstanding loans to harmed consumers; (3) selling consumer information; and (4) making misrepresentations when providing loans or collecting debt or helping others that are doing so. The order would also impose a $100,000 civil money penalty based on LendUp’s demonstrated inability to pay.
The CFPB will work to provide redress to eligible harmed consumers from the Bureau’s Civil Penalty Fund.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that implements and enforces Federal consumer financial law and ensures that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.