Rent-A-Center Subsidiary Faces Federal, State Investigations
Virtual “Lease-to-Own” Retailer Under Scrutiny for Deceptive Practices
Elise Hansen in Law360 reports that Rent-A-Center subsidiary Acima is facing an investigation from nearly 40 state attorneys general as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Texas-headquartered Rent-A-Center Inc. said in a regulatory filing that it received a letter from Nebraska’s attorney general on Nov. 1 stating that dozens of other state attorneys general have banded together in a multistate investigation into Acima’s “business acts and practices.”
Acima is a “virtual” segment of the lease-to-own company, and has its own online marketplace and browser extension, as well as a mobile app and virtual card, according to its website. Rent-A-Center in late 2020 inked the deal to acquire Acima for roughly $1.65 billion in cash and stock.
Both Acima and its now-parent Rent-A-Center engage in the sometimes shady business of Rent-to-Own.
Acima notes on its website that you can get the things you love . . . without credit.
However, it also offers this disclaimer:
*The advertised service is a rental or lease purchase agreement provided by Acima. It is not a loan, credit or financing. While no credit history is required, Acima obtains information from consumer reporting agencies in connection with a lease application. Acima Cash Price includes a markup over invoice price. Acquiring ownership by leasing costs more than the retailer’s cash price.
The investigations by state and federal officials into deceptive practices should give consumers pause as they consider these very expensive products. On its own, this type of purchase is incredibly expensive and can carry some significant penalties. Add practices which led Massachusetts to seek a fine and injunction to the mix and you have a recipe for consumer financing disaster.
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