Research and Statistics

FTC settles prepaid card misrepresentation case


A company settled with the Federal Trade Commission after allegedly charging unaware consumers, who thought they were filling out loan applications, for a prepaid card.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

A California debit card company that allegedly tricked thousands of customers into buying prepaid cards settled with the Federal Trade Commission on Aug. 20, according to an FTC press release.

Joshua Finer, owner of VirtualWorks — also known as Virtual Works, EverPrivate Card and Secret Cash Card — agreed to a $52,000 settlement for allegedly misrepresenting his product and its cost. Consumers, who thought they were either applying only for a payday loan or thought the prepaid card was free, were surprised when hit with a $54.95 prepaid card enrollment fee.

The cards were sold through payday loan marketer Swish Marketing Inc., which is also facing charges by the FTC. Customers seeking a loan filled out an online application and then pressed a “submit” button. At that time, advertisements for other products appeared. The customers could either select “yes,” to buy the product or “no,” to not purchase. All products were automatically set to “no,” except for an ad for VirtualWorks prepaid cards. If the options went unnoticed and a customer quickly clicked “Finish matching me with a payday loan provider,” then they were charged for the card.

In some cases, Swish and VirtualWorks were also accused of marketed the cards as a “bonus,” implying that they were free for loan applicants. The enrollment fee was only revealed in fine print beneath the submit button, according to the FTC.

Both the marketing and the debit card company are believed to have worked together to create the offers. VirtualWorks supposedly paid Swish up to $15 per card “purchase.”

The defendants are barred from misrepresenting their product and the products’ costs in the future. All information on billing, amounts and methods of payment must be disclosed to consumers. The company and its principals are also obligated to monitor marketers to ensure that their product is fairly represented.

Swish Marketing, Mark Benning, the CEO, Matthew Patterson, the vice president of marketing, and Jason Strober, a partner, are also facing a suit for engaging in deceptive marketing practices.

See related: FTC charges seven credit repair companies with deceit, 4 ways to opt out of credit card affiliate marketing, Prepaid card use rising as credit cards stutter

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

After run of rate hikes, banks leave APRs unchanged

Banks paused this week following a recent run of interest rate increases, leaving the national average annual percentage rate on new credit cards unchanged at 12.17 percent, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 25th, 2020
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more