Populus Financial Group and ACE Cash Express Respond to Baseless Litigation Filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

ACE vehemently disagrees with the CFPB’s claims of deception, unfairness and abuse. Over 140,000 ACE customers have availed themselves of ACE’s payment plan option since 2013, which clearly indicates borrowers were aware of this option.

The CFPB claim regarding alleged improper withdrawals only relates to approximately 0.028% of ACE’s loan transactions during the applicable time period and the CFPB misinterpreted the relevant language in the loan agreement.  Furthermore, despite no consumer harm, ACE has refunded over $670,000 to loan customers they will never be required to pay back.

DALLAS – July 12, 2022 – Populus Financial Group, which operates ACE Cash Express (ACE), today responds to a meritless lawsuit containing a series of false allegations filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

ACE, a provider of financial products and services to millions of consumers, has spent more than 50 years serving its customers fairly and transparently, while creating a culture of service and compliance that aligns with the goals of its regulators and its many constituents. In doing so, ACE has built a strong relationship with its customers, who are extremely satisfied with ACE’s products and services. In June of this year, ACE received over 9,600 Google reviews with an average rating of 4.88 out of 5 stars, and ACE’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement, is currently 65.3, which is substantially higher than the average NPS for the financial services industry.

Therefore, ACE is disappointed that the CFPB decided to file a baseless lawsuit over a voluntary payment plan process that benefits, and has been long disclosed to, ACE customers, and the CFPB’s misinterpretation of a loan agreement provision that impacted a small number of borrowers. Unfortunately, the CFPB has left ACE with no choice but to litigate and defend itself against these unjustified claims.

In states that do not require a payment plan, ACE voluntarily offers a no-cost payment plan option on its payday loan products as an alternative to refinancing and as a benefit to a customer who has expressed difficulty with making payments.

In 2013, ACE created a process for consistently and uniformly offering its payment plan and added language to its loan agreements to further educate borrowers of the availability of the payment plan option. ACE believed this process met the CFPB’s expectations at that time. ACE revised its process again in 2020. This revised process has been in place for more than two years, and ACE again believes this process has met the CFPB’s new expectations. But instead of engaging with ACE and providing supervisory guidance, the CFPB is now attempting to penalize ACE for a process it used in connection with a voluntary payment plan that is not required by law.

ACE vehemently disagrees with the CFPB’s claims of deception, unfairness and abuse. Over 140,000 ACE customers have availed themselves of the payment plan option since changes were implemented in 2013, yet the CFPB wrongly alleges ACE hid the payment plan option from borrowers and steered them to refinance. The facts reflect customers were aware of the voluntary payment plan option because of disclosures in their loan agreements, and language on ACE’s website and in other communications.

Separately, the CFPB has accused ACE of unfairly withdrawing money from customers without authorization. This allegation relates to only approximately 0.028% of ACE’s loan transactions during the applicable time period, and despite disagreeing with the CFPB’s interpretation of certain loan agreement provisions and a lack of consumer harm, ACE immediately revised the language, audited other documents and self-reported additional similar language. Additionally, more than two years ago, ACE voluntarily refunded over $670,000 of principal, interest and fees to affected consumers, most of which amount was principal, and has voluntarily forgiven the debt. In other words, ACE has given over half a million dollars to loan customers that they will never be required to pay back.

The CFPB has also asserted that ACE is a repeat offender. This is not true. Until the CFPB filed this lawsuit, it has never brought any enforcement action based on ACE’s payment plan. The second allegation involving the CFPB’s misinterpretation of certain loan agreement provisions has also never been at issue—until now.

In the weeks leading up to the lawsuit, ACE expressed a strong desire to reach a satisfactory resolution with the CFPB by offering to make certain changes that would have been beneficial to consumers, even though those changes are not required by law and are outside of the scope of these claims. ACE also requested multiple times for an in-person meeting between CFPB senior leadership and ACE executives to resolve the CFPB’s misunderstandings.

ACE’s consumer-friendly and impactful law-changing proposals were unfortunately met with outrageous and unprecedented demands, and ACE’s requests for a face-to-face meeting were denied. These discussions and the CFPB’s refusal to meet with ACE executives made it clear to ACE that the CFPB had no real intention to settle, leaving the only path to fairness in court. We look forward to sharing the facts with an impartial judge.

About Populus Financial Group and ACE Cash Express

Populus Financial Group™ provides financial services through its family of brands including ACE Cash Express®, ACE Elite® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card, Flare Account® and Porte™. Populus Financial Group delivers a broad range of financial products and services including short-term consumer loans, card services, check cashing, money transfers, bill payments and money orders. Visit  PopulusFinancial.com for more information.