Cash Genie customers to be compensated
Cash Genie, txtmecash.co.uk and paydayiseveryday.co.uk customers are to be compensated for being treated unfairly.
Ariste Holding Limited, the company behind Cash Genie and the two other websites, is to pay out more than £20 million to 92,000 customers after admitting its failings to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The watchdog has been investigating the trading practices of the company since it voluntarily notified the FCA that it had engaged in unfair practices. As a result, Ariste agreed to provide £10 million in redress on top of the £10.3 million in fees and interest it has already written off.
Cash Genie will now write off or refund fees and charges that shouldn't have been added to customer accounts and interest where it rolled over customers' loans inappropriately.
Payments taken without authorisation will also be refunded and all outstanding balances on accounts affected will be written off.
The company said it aims to contact all affected customers by 18 September 2015.
The failures of the company, which go back as far as the launch of Cash Genie, in September 2009 include unfair charges. The FCA gave the example of it charging Cash Genie customers £50 to transfer to its sister debt collection firm, Twyford Developments Ltd, trading as Carter Forbes, even though it incurred no additional costs.
Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “The revelation that some Cash Genie customers were charged an extra £50 for the privilege of being transferred to their debt collection business is even more shocking when you consider that of all their customers, these were in the most financial difficulty.”
The company also charged fees it was not entitled to under its customer contracts and rolled over, or refinanced, loans without customers' explicit request or consent.
Meanwhile, customers of the txtmecash.co.uk and paydayiseveryday.co.uk brands has money taken from the bank accounts they had linked to their accounts to repay any existing Cash Genie loans without being asked for their prior consent.
The FCA said: "In a significant number of these cases customers were encouraged to apply to these websites for loans and give their banking details under the false pretence that the loan had been pre-approved."
In addition, Cash Genie failed to send annual statements to customers who had not repaid their loans after a year, meaning it subsequently should have stopped levying further fees or interest to accounts but failed to do so.
Customers who think they may have been affected can find more information about compensation on the FCA and Cash Genie websites.
Linda Woodall, Acting Director of Supervision - Retail and Authorisations at the FCA said: "Although standards in the consumer credit sector are improving, it is disappointing that examples of poor practice in the payday market keep surfacing."