Commentary

Better late than never: Montel Williams to stop endorsing payday loans

Photo: MoneyMutual

Photo: MoneyMutual

There is another small ray of good news today in the long-term battle to rid the nation of the predatory scalawags in the payday loan racket. After years as serving as the well-compensated barker for the sharks at MoneyMutual, TV pitchman Montel Williams has announced that he will stop endorsing the company. The announcement came just a day after the New York Department of Financial Services announced a settlement with owners of MoneyMutual that prohibits the company from doing business in New York and requires it to pay a $2.1 million penalty. Give you any ideas, Attorney General Cooper?

This is from the settlement announcement:

Superintendent [of Financial Services Benjamin] Lawsky said: “Using Mr. Williams’s reputation as a trusted celebrity endorser, MoneyMutual marketed loans to struggling consumers with sky-high interest rates – sometimes in excess of 1,300 percent – that trapped New Yorkers in destructive cycles of debt. The company made special efforts to target the more than 55 percent of their customers who were ‘repeat clients’ – including so-called ‘Gold’ customers who took out a new loan to pay off a previous loan. We are pleased that they have agreed to resolve this matter and stop marketing these illegal, usurious loans to New York consumers. Our investigation into the lead generation industry continues.”

Today’s MoneyMutual agreement is the first successful enforcement action against a payday loan “lead generation” company penalizing it for its unlawful conduct. Lead generation firms do not typically make payday loans directly, but instead set up websites marketing those illegal loans. Through promises of easy access to quick cash, the lead generation companies entice consumers to provide them with sensitive personal information such as social security and bank account numbers, and then sell that information to payday lenders operating unlawfully in New York and other states. In December 2013, DFS issued subpoenas to 16 online “lead generation” firms, including Selling Source/MoneyMutual, which were suspected of deceptive or misleading marketing of illegal, online payday loans in New York.

Let’s hope state officials keep Selling Source (aka “MoneyMutual”) on the run and that, at some point, Mr. Williams offers a public apology to the thousands upon thousands of vulnerable Americans he’s helped connect to these sharks. We won’t get our hopes up, though, that he returns the gazillions of dollars he’s no doubt been paid or, better yet, donates it to a worthy cause.

One Comment


  1. Cynthia Simpson

    March 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Thank goodness something might get done! This industry preys on those who can least afford the convenience provided. Unfortunately, I cannot convince friends that this choice digs the hole deeper.

Check Also

NC Policy Watch Policy Prescription #9: Expanding opportunities for justice within the criminal justice system

As the 2018 legislative session gets underway in ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

North Carolina election employees could soon be facing stricter scrutiny. House members rolled out a [...]

In one of the largest campaign donation forfeitures in state history, 48 improper donations from the [...]

Friends, neighbors, colleagues of commission chairman Jim Womack submit nearly identical letters cla [...]

When N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger addressed reporters last [...]

In the aftermath of the recent successful push to ward off huge cuts to food assistance programs in [...]

There are a lot of important statistics that confirm just how out of whack the U.S. economy has grow [...]

The post Bite the Apple & NC’s HB2 Legacy appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

When I headed off to college, I could not have predicted that many of the funding streams, positions [...]

Now hiring

NC Policy Watch is now hiring a Managing Editor – click here for more info.