The popular personal finance website Lendidu has long identified itself as a neutral source for reviewing various student loan products. In fact, it has sold its ranking to student-loan companies, the Federal Trade Commission alleged. Complaint Unveiled on Monday
“LendedU informed consumers that its financial product ranking is based on objective and unbiased information about the quality of the product, but in reality Lendedu sold its ranking to the highest bidder,” said Andrew Smith, director of the agency’s Consumer Protection Bureau.
The FTC fined Lendedu $ 5,700 and banned falsely claiming the site’s ranking.
The FTC says that Lendidu has done more than lie about its ranking. Employees, their friends and family members have been accused of writing positive reviews on other rating sites as the website tried to boost its rating. Of the 126 reviews for Lendedu on customer review site TrustPilot.com, 90 were the five reviews posted by LendEdu affiliates, the FTC said.
The indictment also names Nathaniel Matherson, co-founder of Landidoo parent company Shap Tutors, and Matthew Lenhardt, and Alexander Coleman, vice president of products for Landidoo.
The FTC does not name creditors who allege they paid for the ranking. A screenshot of the official announcement shows Sophie at the top of a LandedU ranking, followed by Ernest and Landecay.
Until Monday, SoFi had not appeared anywhere in LendEDU Space. Ernest was the leading nder, while Landke was the eighth.
The ranking also included a disallowance: “All the companies seen in the table below are Lendidoo partners who compensate Lendidu This This compensation is affected where the products appear in the table below,” the note noted.
None of the creditors have responded to any request for comment. LendEDU did not respond to a request for comment.
This is not the first time shop owners have been accused of misrepresenting themselves. In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that Drew Cloud, an intrusion expert on student loan debt, was widely reported in the media.
“Drew Cloud is a pseudonym that various groups of authors of Student Reporting LLC use to share experiences and information related to the challenges facing college students in funding their education,” Matherson told the Chronicle of Higher Education.