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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC brings action against payment processor for misleading small businesses

Federal Issues FTC FTC Act Enforcement ROSCA Payment Processors UDAP

Federal Issues

On July 29, the FTC announced a settlement with a payment processing company and two of its sales affiliates (collectively, “defendants”) to resolve claims that they “trapp[ed] small businesses with hidden terms, surprise exit fees, and zombie charges.” The FTC alleged that the defendants made false claims about fees and cost savings, including “false and baseless claims about their processing services” to lure merchants, many of whom had limited English proficiency. According to the complaint, once merchants were enrolled, the defendants allegedly withdrew funds from their accounts without their consent and made it difficult and expensive for them to cancel the service. The complaint also alleged that the defendants violated the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA) by failing to disclose material terms, by charging consumers without their express informed consent, and by failing to provide a simple mechanism for consumers to cancel the agreements.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the defendants are, among other things, prohibited from making misrepresentations, making unsubstantiated claims, and using unfair debiting practices. The defendants will also be prohibited from making withdrawals from any of their customers’ bank accounts without authorization. The defendants must pay $4.9 million to the FTC, which will be used to provide refunds to affected businesses.

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