Woodstock Institute Issues Refund Challenge to Illinois Lenders
Consumer Advocacy Group Highlights Action by Oportun, Calls on Others to Follow Suit
Consumer finance advocates at the Woodstock Institute are applauding an action by installment lender Oportun that retroactively honors a 36% rate cap on interest for loans in Illinois. The group is now calling on other lenders to follow suit and offer customers refunds. The move comes as the state operates under the Predatory Loan Prevention Act (PLPA), signed into law in Illinois in March of this year.
“Woodstock strongly believes in calling attention to both good and bad actions by financial service providers. We applaud Oportun’s move, which puts more money in the pockets of Illinois consumers at a critical time” said Horacio Mendez, President & CEO of Woodstock Institute. “Combined with their recent decision to dismiss all pending debt collection lawsuits, we are hopeful that this represents a new day for Oportun and their clients.”
Beginning October 29 of this year, Oportun, one of the nation’s leading installment lenders, began voluntarily giving refunds and credits to Illinois consumers who received loans from Oportun before Illinois’s 36% rate cap became law. The rate cap, implemented by the Predatory Loan Prevention Act (PLPA), took effect on March 23, 2021, but it applies only to loans made on or after that date.
Oportun’s credits benefit borrowers in two ways: (1) borrowers who received loans before March 23, 2021, and still have an outstanding balance receive automatic credits applied to their outstanding balance to bring their interest rate down to 36% APR, and (2) they save money on the interest that would have accrued on that credited amount. As for refunds, borrowers received a refund check if they had an outstanding loan as of March 23, 2021, that was paid off by October 29, 2021. The refunded amounts were equal to the amount of interest paid by the borrower that exceeded 36% APR. Oportun made the move to demonstrate its support of the PLPA and to raise the bar for lenders in Illinois in the hope that others will follow.
The move comes as customers continue to deal with new economic conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also just before this year’s holiday shopping season — a time of year notorious for saddling consumers with additional debt.
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