The Federal Trade Commission is sending 7,731 checks totaling more than $9.7 million to small businesses who were harmed by Yellowstone Capital, a merchant cash advance company that withdrew money from their bank accounts without permission.
Eligible businesses are getting 51% of their money back, averaging more than $1,200 for each check. Recipients should cash their checks within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Businesses who have questions about their refund should call the refund administrator, Epiq, at 855-604-1861. The Commission never requires people to pay money or provide account information to get a refund.
The FTC sued Yellowstone and its owners in 2020, alleging that they unlawfully withdrew millions of dollars in excess payments from their customers’ accounts. The complaint alleged that Yellowstone continued to withdraw hundreds or thousands of dollars from businesses after they had repaid the full amounts owed in their contracts. In some cases, Yellowstone would only refund this money when businesses complained, and even then the refunds could take weeks or months, leaving small businesses without needed cash on hand.
In 2021, Yellowstone agreed to a court order that required them to surrender funds to the FTC, which the FTC is using to provide refunds. The order also prohibits the defendants from misleading consumers or withdrawing money without authorization and requires them to monitor companies working on their behalf.
The Commission’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of Commission refunds. In 2020, Commission actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the Commission lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the Commission’s ability to get money back for consumers.