The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has banned Swish Marketing, Inc. and their affiliates from promoting payday loan products (or any product) with a “negative-option” program and ordered the company to pay consumers $4.8 million because they trick payday loan applicants into paying for an unrelated debit card.

The FTC charged that Swish operated websites advertising short-term, or “payday,” loan matching services that purportedly matched loan applicants with lenders. The websites included an online loan application form that tricked online loan applicants into unknowingly ordering a debit card.

On many sites, clicking the button for submitting loan applications led to four product offers unrelated to the loan, each with tiny “Yes” and “No” buttons. “No” was pre-clicked for three of them; “Yes” was pre-clicked for a debit card, with fine-print disclosures asserting consumers’ consent to have their bank account debited.

Many of the payday loan applicants didn’t realize they were opting into an expensive debit card and some of the websites even promoted the debit card as a bonus. Of course if the payday loan applicants hear the word “bonus” they are going to assume that it’s at no additional cost. It’s really unfortunate that the payday loan industry is moving online where there is even more opportunity to defraud vulnerable consumers facing financial difficulties.  Consumers taking out a payday loan online should be even more cautious because websites are mostly unregulated and can be designed in a way that makes it impossible for the consumer to fully understand what they’re getting into.

(source: )

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