Bridge It agrees to pay FTC $18 million in refunds to resolve deceptive marketing allegations

Payments
In Re: Bridge IT d/b/a Brigit
Date: Oct. 17, 2023

Issue: Bridge IT Inc.’s stipulated orders with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that it deceptively marketed cash advances to consumers.

Case Summary: Bridge IT Inc., creators of personal finance app “Brigit,” agreed to pay $18 million in refunds to resolve FTC allegations that it deceptively marketed cash advances to consumers.

The FTC alleged Brigit advertised to financially struggling consumers they could quickly access cash advances up to $250 by signing up for a $9.99 monthly subscription. Brigit allegedly informed consumers that its cash advances would be processed instantly for free and there would be no interest or late fees. However, the FTC claimed Brigit charged a 99-cent fee for instant transfers and would not allow users to cancel auto-renewing subscriptions until their advances were repaid. The FTC alleged only approximately 1% of customers received access to the $250 advance, and approximately 20% were denied access to cash advances entirely.

According to the FTC, Bridge IT violated Section 5 of the FTC Act by participating in deceptive and unfair acts or practices. The commission also alleged that Bridge IT’s claim its cash advance was available without “hidden fees” was false and misleading because it charged consumers an additional 99-cent fee for ​“express delivery” of the cash advance, and it required consumers to maintain their $9.99/month subscription while their cash advance was still being paid off. In addition, the FTC alleged Bridge IT engaged in dark patterns by making it difficult for consumers to cancel their monthly subscription, including by: refusing to honor cancellation requests made through email or chat; forcing customers to navigate through several pages on the mobile application and then navigate back to the Brigit website to cancel; forcing customers to select a reason for cancellation before honoring the request; and using repeated, more prominent calls to action to encourage customers to inadvertently retain their membership.

Additionally, the FTC alleged Bridge IT violated the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act by offering its mobile app over the internet while using an unlawful negative option feature. FTC defines negative option marketing as a transaction in which a customer’s silence or failure to take an affirmative action to reject goods or services is interpreted as acceptance of an offer.

Bottom Line:  The FTC’s settlement will become final after court approval. Bridge IT neither admitted nor denied FTC’s allegations.

Documents: Stipulated Order

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