March 17, 2020
The Online Lenders Alliance understands the need to help consumers impacted by COVID-19. The current crisis demonstrates in stark terms why we need to protect credit access for non-prime consumers who may be experiencing income lapses due to illness, reduced ability to work due to social distancing requirements, or other factors. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that non-prime consumers have options to deal with unforeseen or regular expenses, as well as to make sure our members have the proper consumer protections in place.
As the U.S. Government takes measures to respond to the health threat and economic consequences of COVID-19, we have taken proactive steps to ask our members to keep consumers protected and assist them as necessary. Specifically, we are actively working with our members to keep the consumers they lend to in mind and to be sympathetic to the financial volatility that many non-prime borrowers face. We have recommended that our lenders provide consumers with flexibility, including the ability to defer or skip payments, as well as delaying delinquency notices or negative credit reports to the reporting bureaus.
We have also recommended extending payment terms, restructuring existing loans, or easing terms for new loans where possible and in accordance with various laws. We hope that each of our members will take the necessary steps to work with their customers during these difficult times.
OLA also reminds consumers to look for the OLA seal on lenders websites, especially as more of them may be seeking short-term financial products online for the first time. When consumers see the OLA seal, they can trust they are working with a company committed to the highest standards of conduct, dedicated to ensuring the best possible experience for their customers, operate in full compliance with federal law, and are working hard to protect consumers from fraud. When they click on the OLA seal on an OLA member’s website, it will direct them to this video. If it does not, the site may be fraudulent.
During this time, we are also on the lookout for fraud and scams targeted at those financially impacted by COVID-19. Consumers can reach out to the OLA Consumer Hotline at 1-866-299-7585 to speak with a live operator who can assist them in reporting fraud and navigating the online lending landscape, or they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.