“Oportun,” is almost a translation of the Spanish word for “opportunity,” but is a few letters shy of the full word: oportunidad. Unfortunately, Oportun’s practices leave people questioning just how much financial opportunity consumers receive as a result of using these products.
“Partner with us today to build a better tomorrow.” “We’re committed to our community.” These messages and other similar ones, placed prominently throughout the Oportun website, could lead a consumer in the community to believe that this lender had their best interests in mind. Oportun’s designation as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) might also signal that this lender had a vested interest in serving its community well. However, while Oportun claims to be a “mission-driven financial institution providing inclusive, affordable financial services” to Latinos, immigrants, and low-tomoderate income borrowers, it has aggressively marketed unaffordable loans to these communities and then used abusive and intimidating debt collection tactics when they cannot repay them.
This memo outlines new research establishing that Oportun regularly engages in egregious, abusive, and intimidating debt collection practices in California. Three primary findings are presented here. This research establishes that:
- Oportun has been the top-filing debt collector in California since 2018;
- Oportun sues to intimidate its mostly Latino customer base; and
- Oportun did not make meaningful changes to their debt collection model until it was the subject of public pressure, even after the onset of the coronavirus public health and economic crisis and may continue to pursue legal cases even before the crisis is over.