Google, Bing To Block Search Result Ads For Unlicensed Payday Lenders In California

Government officials in California found a few unlikely allies when it comes to ensuring online payday lenders aren’t illegally advertising their services to residents online: The nation’s top search engine providers.

The Los Angeles Times reports that on Tuesday the California Department of Business Oversight announced an initiative with Internet search firms Microsoft and Google to block advertising in the state by unlicensed payday lenders that have been known to break the law by charging excessive fees and perpetrating a cycle of debt.

The initiative covers ads showcased on Google, Bing and Bing-controlled Yahoo search pages.

Under the program, the DBO will notify designated employees at Google and Microsoft when cease-and-desist orders against unlicensed payday lenders operating in the state have been finalized. At that point, the firms will take quick action to block the lenders’ ads, if they happen to appear on the search engine pages.

During the creation of the new program, the DBO provided both Microsoft and Google with a list of unlicensed lenders already under enforcement plans. Using those lists, Microsoft and Google representatives say they have already blocked ads by 39 unlicensed lenders.

The Department plans to supplement the new initiative by exploring ways in which it can optimize search results so that enforcement actions against payday lenders are more prominently displayed and identifiable to consumers.

DBO commissioner Jan Lynn Owen says in a statement that the new initiative is just one step in the Department’s fight against predatory payday lenders.

Last year the DBO took enforcement action against 18 payday lenders, 15 of which were unlicensed.

California enlists Google and Microsoft in war on unlicensed payday lenders [The Los Angeles Times]

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