BrightSpeed Solutions, Inc. and Kevin Howard
On March 3, 2021, the Bureau filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against BrightSpeed Solutions, Inc. (BrightSpeed) and its founder and former chief executive officer, Kevin Howard. BrightSpeed was a privately-owned, third-party payment processor based in Chicago, Illinois. Howard founded BrightSpeed in 2015 and ran the company until he wound it down in March 2019. The Bureau alleged that between 2016 and 2018, Howard and BrightSpeed knowingly processed payments for companies that purported to offer technical-support services and products over the internet, but actually tricked consumers into purchasing expensive and unnecessary antivirus software or services. The Bureau alleged that Howard’s and BrightSpeed’s actions were unfair practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and as well as deceptive telemarketing practices in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. On January 18, 2022, the Bureau filed a proposed stipulated judgment and order to resolve its claims, which the court entered on January 19, 2022. The stipulated judgment and order permanently bans defendants from the payment processing, consumer lending, deposit-taking, and financial advisory industries and from engaging in debt collection activities and telemarketing with respect to consumer financial products or services. The stipulated judgment and order also requires the defendants to pay $54 million in redress, which amount will be suspended upon Howard’s payment of a $500,000 civil money penalty.