Populus Financial Group, Inc., d/b/a ACE Cash Express, Inc.
On July 12, 2022, the Bureau filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Populus Financial Group, Inc., which does business as ACE Cash Express, Inc. (“ACE”). ACE is a payday lender headquartered in Irving, Texas and has approximately 979 stores in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The Bureau had previously found that ACE abusively induced borrowers with a demonstrated inability to repay their existing loan to take out a new ACE loan with accompanying fees, and on July 10, 2014, the Bureau ordered ACE to cease encouraging or suggesting that a delinquent borrower pay off their loan and then take out a new loan. ACE’s loans come with a fee that is equivalent to a triple-digit interest rate, and consumers who cannot afford to pay back the loan and this fee often refinance their loans, incurring another fee to extend their loan for 14 or 30 days. Consumers in ten states, however, had the contractual right to one free repayment plan per year, which is designed to help consumers get out of a debt trap. Under the free repayment plan, consumers would owe their outstanding balance in four equal installments over their next four paydays, rather than owing one lump sum, without paying any additional fees or interest. The Bureau alleges that ACE engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (“CFPA”) by concealing this free repayment plan from consumers who were entitled to it, instead inducing them to refinance their loans for additional fees. As alleged in the complaint, since July 10, 2014, hundreds of thousands of consumers have paid ACE over $240 million in reborrowing fees while eligible for a free repayment plan. The Bureau also alleges that when ACE attempted to collect payment on its payday and title loans ACE unfairly made electronic withdrawals of consumers’ money without their authorization. The Bureau seeks permanent injunctive relief, redress for consumers, and civil money penalties.