13,000 Illinoisans to divvy up $15 million in finance scam settlement

About $15 million will be distributed to 13,413 Illinois residents who fell victim to an online lending scam by Think Finance, which deceived borrowers into repaying loans they did not owe.

Sun-Times file

Compensation checks were mailed Tuesday to thousands of Illinois residents who fell victim to an online lending scam that deceived borrowers into repaying loans they did not owe.

About $15 million will be distributed to 13,413 Illinois residents, averaging about $1,100 per check, from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency said.

The CFPB’s total payout is $384 million to 191,000 customers across 17 states.

The disbursement stems from a lawsuit settled with the Texas-based company Think Finance. The CFPB filed the lawsuit in 2017, claiming the company collected on loans that were legally void under state laws capping interest rates. The company also issued and collected debt without the required licensing in some states, including Illinois.

In Illinois, the loans violated state laws regarding the licensing of consumer-installment loans made after January 1, 2013 and the interest rates lenders can charge on certain loans, according to the lawsuit.

“Think Finance pursued consumers for payments even though the loans in question were void in whole or in part under state law and payments could not be collected,” the CFPB said in a statement.

Think Finance, an online provider of loan servicing, software technology, analytics and marketing services, made electronic withdrawals from customers’ bank accounts or called or sent letters to consumers demanding payment for debts they legally did not owe, the CFPB said.

The funds to be repaid will come from the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund, also known as the victims relief fund, which the agency uses to pay back consumers who were victimized in scams and fraud.

“Too often, victims of financial crimes are left without recourse even when the companies that harm them are stopped by law enforcement,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “The victims relief fund allows the CFPB to help consumers even when bad actors have squandered their ill-gotten profits.”

Think Finance filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017, a few weeks before the CFPB filed its lawsuit. The company was dissolved in 2019 and reorganized under the name TF Holdings.

Under a court order, TF Holdings also was prohibited from providing crediting services to borrowers residing in any of the 17 states involved in the lawsuit.

Illinois residents with questions about the payment distributions should contact the CFPB at info@cfpb-thinkfinance.org or (888) 557-1865.

Consumers can submit unrelated financial complaints to the CFPB at consumerfinance.gov/complaint or (855) 411-2372.

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