Earnin/Activehours Payday Lending Litigation
Stark v. Activehours, Inc.
United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division
Case No. 5:19-cv-07553-NC
For consumers who download the Earnin mobile application (“app”), Activehours, Inc. d/b/a Earnin will advance earned income prior to payday either on demand or via an automated monitoring service called “Balance Shield.” Users are tracked at their workplaces to ensure that wages have been earned before the deposits are made into the user’s checking account. These advances, or “Payouts,” are marketed as alternatives to high-interest, cycle-inducing payday loans that are now illegal in many states. Earnin states that no fees or interest are charged for these advances, but Earnin requests that a “tip” be paid in the suggested amount of $9 per $100 transfer.
But advance limits appear to be tied to users’ tipping behavior, and the tips appear, in substance, to be loan fees. Computed as APR figures, these Payouts carry astronomical interest rates that are not disclosed by Earnin. Failure to generate tips appears to result in lowered limits for the user that are attributed to the shortcomings of the “community” by Earnin. In addition, there is a steady stream of complaints that premature or excessive withdrawals cause unnecessary and repeated overdraft or NSF fees.
The company advances a utopian ideal of people coming together in times of need and insists that its welfare depends on the generosity of its users. But the company refuses to comply with state and federal lending laws and appears focused on capturing a nationwide client base of the financially vulnerable, conditioned to request weekly advances on their paychecks.
Complaint – 11/15/2019