The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a complaint against an online marketer for allegedly debiting consumers’ bank accounts without their consent. The charges assert that consumers were charged for things they didn’t want when they visited a website seeking a payday loan.
Payday loans can be a helpful resource for resolving temporary debt issues from time to time. But, just as in using any financial service, a consumer needs to be cautious of predators. The FTC says a recent probe has landed some of those predators before of a federal judge.
According to an FTC press release Monday, the defendants have been charged with violating the FTC Act by misusing consumers’ financial information and charging consumers without their consent. The complaint names Direct Benefits Group LLC, also doing business as Direct Benefits Online and Unified Savings; Voice Net Global LLC, also doing business as Thrifty Dial; Solid Core Solutions Inc.; WKMS Inc.; Kyle Wood; and Mark Berry.
Misuse of consumers’ information
The defendants operated several websites, such as juniperloans.com and mypaydayangel.com. According to the FTC, when consumers first visited one of the sites seeking a payday loan, they were asked for their personal information, such as social security, driver’s license and bank account numbers. Near the end of the form, however, was a button to opt out of other unrelated offers for services such as travel discounts and Internet access. Often, consumers would click “submit” and be unwittingly entered into programs they did not want. Charges started at $59.90 a month and escalated to $99.90 a month.
Not proof of a crime
The FTC further noted that it files a complaint only when it has “reason to believe” that a crime has been committed. The charges do not constitute proof that a law has been violated. That will be decided later in a court of law.
BBB says be informed
When seeking out a payday loan, the Better Business Bureau advises sticking to well-known lenders and always researching a lender before giving any personal information.