The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), California LULAC, the Consumer Federation of California (CFC), Haven Neighborhood Services, New Economics for Women (NEW), and a coalition of consumer advocates issued the following joint statement in response to Oportun’s withdrawal of its application for a national bank charter:
Our coalition is pleased that Oportun, in the face of significant opposition, withdrew their national bank charter application. However, this matter is far from over since it appears clear that Oportun’s business plan is to pivot to a rent-a-bank scheme that harms consumers. To that end, now that Oportun has withdrawn its national bank charter application that was pending before the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), we urge the OCC to prohibit MetaBank from renting out its national bank charter to Oportun.
Oportun, which has been under investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since the beginning of the year, has a history of targeting Latinos and immigrants with unaffordable loans and predatory debt collection practices. Research by CRL found that Oportun has been the top filer of debt collection cases in Los Angeles County since at least 2018 through December 2020, affirming other research showing Oportun to be among the top filers of debt collection lawsuits in both California and Texas. Moreover, as of early 2021, Oportun borrowers were still waiting for pending cases to be dropped per the company’s promise to do so in July 2020.
Oportun did not stop borrower harassment during the pandemic and engaged in suing-to-intimidate tactics targeting its mostly Latino customer base. Notably, debt collection lawsuits are considered negative factors during an immigrant’s application process to become a permanent resident or US citizen. Therefore, the very people that Oportun claims to be helping could be denied the American Dream on account of its practices.
Oportun’s partnership with MetaBank would allow Oportun to expand its reach to consumers across the country and make loans not permitted for non-banks under the laws of certain states, even despite Oportun’s not receiving the bank charter it sought. Oportun already has expanded to AL, AK, KS, LA, MI, NC, OK, TN, and VT thanks only to MetaBank’s willingness to pose as the lender of Oportun’s loans.
In addition, OCC-supervised MetaBank has a history of working with payday lenders and helping third parties offer predatory products to evade the law.
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