FTC Secures Record $59 Million Settlements for Misleading PPP Loan Claims

Sam Karlin
March 25, 2024

In an unprecedented move reflective of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) increased enforcement activity, settlements totaling $59 million have been reached with Biz2Credit and Womply over deceptive practices related to the processing of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. These settlements underscore the critical importance of truthful advertising and the severe consequences companies can face.

Biz2Credit, a prominent player in the small business lending space, has agreed to a $33 million settlement with the FTC. The charges stem from the company's claims of processing emergency PPP loan applications within an average of 10-14 business days.

However, Biz2Credit fell significantly short of this target, with actual processing times exceeding a month. This delay left many small businesses in dire financial straits, awaiting funds that were critical for their survival during the pandemic's peak. The settlement highlights the discrepancy between Biz2Credit's promises and its actual performance, emphasizing the detrimental impact on businesses relying on these funds for operational sustainability.

Similarly, Womply, under scrutiny for its PPP loan application processing claims, has agreed to a $26 million settlement. The FTC's charges allege that Womply preyed on small businesses' urgent need for PPP funding, promising fast and efficient loan processing that often failed to materialize.

With more than 60% of Womply's applications not resulting in funding, the company's failure to deliver on its promises led to significant distress among small business owners, many of whom were left without the vital financial support promised.

These settlements mark the largest damages amounts ever secured by the FTC under Section 19 of the FTC Act. The broader context of these settlements underscores a growing trend of regulatory vigilance in the financial sector, particularly concerning the marketing and processing of financial services. Both the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have ramped up their oversight since the onset of the pandemic, targeting misleading practices that threaten the financial well-being of consumers and businesses alike. This increased scrutiny aims to ensure that companies engage in fair and transparent practices, particularly when offering critical financial support during challenging times.

For businesses navigating the complex landscape of financial services, these incidents highlight the necessity of adhering to stringent marketing compliance standards. Regular reviews and audits of marketing practices can preempt regulatory intervention, safeguarding against potential legal challenges and fostering trust with consumers. Moreover, these settlements reinforce the message that the regulatory environment remains vigilant and responsive to deceptive practices, ready to impose significant legal and financial ramifications for deceptive advertising and misleading claims.

DISCLOSURE: This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon for business or legal decisions. Blee is not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. Blee is not liable for any damages arising from the use of or inability to use our service, product, or any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken as a result of using our product or service. If you need legal or tax advice, you should consult an attorney or tax professional in your geographic area.

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