Reuters: Scam loan apps extorting Mexicans thrive in Google Play Store. “[Pedro] Figueroa is one of more than 2,230 people who fell prey to fraudulent loan apps in Mexico between June 2021 and January 2022, according to data compiled by the Citizen Council for Justice and Security, an advocacy group based in Mexico City. The Thomson Reuters Foundation found 29 loan apps with millions of downloads in the Google Play Store that have been reported to the authorities for extortion, fraud, violation of Mexican privacy law, and abusive financial practices.”
Bloomberg: Google Tightens Philippines Apps Review to Curb Loan Sharks. “Alphabet Inc.’s Google will tighten approval for personal loan apps made available in the Philippines to fight illegal and abusive lending practices, the nation’s Securities and Exchange Commission said.”
The Guardian: Google profiting from ‘predatory’ loan adverts promising instant cash. “Google is profiting from ads promoting ‘instant’ cash and loans delivered ‘faster than pizza’ despite a pledge to protect users from ‘deceptive and harmful’ financial products. The ads were served to people in the UK who searched terms like ‘quick money now’ and ‘need money help’ and directed users to firms offering high-interest loans.”
Washington Post: A Trump donor’s company got a 3 percent federal pandemic loan. It sells title loans at a 350 percent annual rate.
Washington Post: A Trump donor’s company got a 3 percent federal pandemic loan. It sells title loans at a 350 percent annual rate.. “A company owned by a major donor to President Trump that operates auto-title loan stores with names such as LoanStar and Moneymax secured a $25 million low-interest loan from a government pandemic aid program, using what consumer advocates describe as a loophole to a rule designed to prevent most lenders from getting this federal help.”
Bloomberg Quint: Google Ban Fails to Stamp Out Short-Term Payday Lending Apps. “In August, Google announced a global crackdown on Android apps that offer short-term loans, saying it wanted to protect consumers from what it called ‘deceptive and exploitative’ terms. But five months later, payday-style applications offering fast money for one or two weeks are still easy to find in many countries on Google Play, the company’s marketplace for Android apps. Some charge interest rates that can exceed 200% annualized.”
The Register: Opera hits back at ‘short seller’ whose report claimed its ‘predatory’ microloan droid apps could hurt, er… investors
The Register: Opera hits back at ‘short seller’ whose report claimed its ‘predatory’ microloan droid apps could hurt, er… investors. “In response to the report, Julia Szyndzielorz, a senior public relations manager at Opera, said: ‘We believe Hindenburg has issued this report with the attempt at creating a situation to short Opera shares.’ She told us: ‘The Company believes that the report contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions and interpretations regarding the business of and events relating to the Company.’” None of those errors, statements, etc. were apparently included in the response given to the Register. I’m going to keep an eye on this, as I was a huge Opera fan back in the day.
MarketWatch: New CFPB database of expensive prepaid cards is missing key information, advocates say. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched a new database revealing the terms and conditions on prepaid cards and payroll cards that can sometimes hit users with high fees. But people wouldn’t know that from the federal watchdog agency, consumer advocates say.”
Wall Street Journal: Google Shuts Out Payday Loans With App-Store Ban. “The technology giant recently prohibited apps from offering personal loans with an annual percentage rate of 36% or higher on its Google Play app store. The move inserted the tech giant into a fight over payday loans, which often carry triple-digit interest rates. The shift was implemented in August with an update to Google’s app-development guidelines for the Android operating system, prompting an outcry from payday-lending companies.” This shouldn’t be horribly surprising; Google banned payday lending ads ages ago.
Not too long ago Google cracked down on payday loan advertising. At the same time, however, Google’s parent company Alphabet had actually backed a payday loan company with capital. Now that company is in trouble with regulators. “The company, California-based LendUp, bills itself as an alternative to traditional payday lenders that can help risky borrowers build up their credit with short-term loans and get access to more favorable lending terms over time. But federal and state regulators say that LendUp didn’t live up to its promises, and now the company has agreed to pay a total of $6.3 million in penalties.”
Google will ban payday loan advertisements. “The decision is the first time Google has announced a global ban on ads for a broad category of financial products. To this point, the search giant has prohibited ads for largely illicit activities such as selling guns, explosives and drugs, and limited those that are sexually explicit or graphic in nature, for example. Critics of payday lenders say they hope the move by Google and other tech companies might undercut the business which finds huge numbers of willing customers on the internet.”