Payday lender agrees £20m redress
In June 2014 Cash Genie voluntarily notified the Financial Conduct Authority that it had engaged in unfair practices.
In July 2014, the firm agreed to an independent review of its past business and to carry out a redress scheme. As a result of the review, it has agreed to provide £10m in redress. The firm had already voluntarily written off £10.3m of fees and interest.
A number of serious failings took place which caused detriment for many customers. Failings date back to the launch of Cash Genie in September 2009.
Cash Genie charged fees and interest which were unfair. For example, it charged £50 to transfer customers to its sister debt collection firm, Twyford Developments, trading as Carter Forbes, even though it incurred no additional costs. In other cases, the firm charged fees which it was not entitled to under its customer contracts.
Loans were rolled over or refinanced without customers’ explicit request or consent and without undertaking appropriate checks or assessments of customers’ situations.
Ariste Holding also traded under the brands www.txtmecash.co.uk and www.paydayiseveryday.co.uk.
Banking information which customers had provided to these websites when they applied for a loan was used to take payment for existing Cash Genie loans without customers’ informed consent.
In a significant number of these cases customers were encouraged to apply to these websites for loans and give their banking details under the false pretence that the loan had been pre-approved.
Cash Genie also failed to send annual statements to customers who had not repaid their loans after 12 months. This means that it should not subsequently have applied further fees or interest to accounts.
Linda Woodall, acting director of supervision – retail and authorisations at the FCA, said: “We have been encouraged that Cash Genie has been working with us proactively and openly to put things right for its customers after these issues were reported.
“Although standards in the consumer credit sector are improving, it is disappointing that examples of poor practice in the payday market keep surfacing. We expect all firms to notify us of any unacceptable past or current practices and provide appropriate redress to anyone affected.”
The redress package agreed with the FCA will consist of a combination of cash refunds and balance write downs. Cash Genie has agreed to write off or refund fees and charges which should not have been added to customer accounts; write off or refund rollover interest where the firm rolled over customers’ loans inappropriately; and refund payments taken without authorisation.
In addition, the firm has agreed to write off all outstanding balances on accounts affected by this practice and write off or refund interest and fees added to customers’ accounts after the point at which the firm should have provided customers with an annual statement.
Customers do not need to take any action. Cash Genie aims to contact all affected customers by 18 September 2015. There is further information for customers who think they may have been affected on the FCA and Cash Genie websites.