By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday said it has fined an Atlanta-based financial technology firm $2.5 million for processing and servicing loans to consumers who did not request or authorize them to do so.
GreenSky, LLC is a mobile app that connects merchants and banks with customers who are usually seeking financing for mostly home-improvement projects.
The CFPB also ordered the company to refund or cancel up to $9 million in loans it allowed outside merchants to promote and offer consumers.
The order comes as part of ongoing scrutiny of fintech firms that automate the delivery and use of financial services via online platforms and devices, like mobile phones.
The agency found the lender to have acted unfairly toward consumers by failing to “create and implement appropriate and effective controls during the loan application, approval, and funding processes,” as well as failing to “implement adequate merchant training and oversight.”
The CFPB said in its order that GreenSky violated The Consumer Financial Protection Act, which aims to protect consumers against lenders who engage in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.
The company in a statement on its website said “GreenSky has agreed to pay a civil money penalty of $2.5 million and to provide redress to eligible consumers where there is insufficient evidence of customer authorization.”
“We cooperated fully with the CFPB in connection with its inquiry and respect and value the important role it plays in regard to consumer protection,” GreenSky President Tim Kaliban said.
Consumers who may be seeking to remodel their home may solicit the services of a contractor that offers financing through GreenSky’s app. The merchant or contractor then submits an auto-populated loan application to GreenSky, including the client’s data, which takes about a minute to complete.
“GreenSky’s careless business and customer service practices enabled its merchants to take advantage of vulnerable consumers who needed financial help to repair their homes and to pay for other critical retail services by setting up loans without consumers’ consent,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio.
“For consumers to wind up in debt to GreenSky for loans they never knew about is simply wrong. The CFPB will not stand for practices that allow conduct like this in the marketplace.”