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Lease Finance Group Review: Fees, Comparisons, Complaints, & Lawsuits
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Note: As of 2022, the Lease Finance Group website is not operating and we can’t find any recent activity from the company. In fact, we have found claims from customers that they are out of business. It appears that the company has pivoted to the car-leasing industry, so we will no longer be updating this profile.
Northern Leasing Systems Lawsuit Update 2021
In June 2020, the New York Attorney General won the 2016 lawsuit filed against Northern Leasing Systems, Inc, voiding thousands of fraudulently-induced credit card equipment leases. The ruling also vacates nearly 30,000 default judgments and bans Northern Leasing from engaging in equipment leasing, effectively dissolving the company. The Attorney General’s victory will also force Northern Leasing and its related entities, Northern Leasing’s chief executive officer, and others who engaged in the fraudulent scheme to provide restitution to small business owners who were fraudulently induced into financing leases for credit card processing equipment from April 1, 2013, through the present. Northern Leasing is ordered to dissolve 60 days after providing relief. Restitution amounts are to be set by the court at a later date. Small business merchants are not required to take action at this time in order to receive restitution.
In February 2021, the Supreme Court denied the Northern respondents’ motions for discovery and a trial or evidentiary hearing and denied the Attorney Respondents’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the petition as against them, effectively upholding the 2020 decision.
Additionally, according to EINPresswire, in November 2020, the OAG brought forward another, separate proceeding after discovering that Northern Leasing’s owners and officers had created two new entities — NLS Equipment Finance and Leasing Expenses Company — to continue defrauding small businesses using the same scheme barred by the court in the prior litigation, as well as to continue collecting on leases rescinded by the June 2020 court order.
The companies found liable by this ruling — also issued by the New York County State Supreme Court — were operated by former Northern Leasing Chief Financial Officer Ariel Schachter and former Northern Leasing officer Sara Krieger and were owned by trusts that benefited the families of Northern Leasing’s owners, Jay Cohen and Leonard Mezei. The court found that these companies had “risen on [Northern Leasing’s] ashes” in an earlier December ruling that granted a temporary restraining order barring them from collecting on any equipment leases. In February 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a decision and order in February 2021 effectively shutting down Northern Leasing Systems’ alleged attempt to continue to enforce illegal leases, including those voided in the 2020 decision. The parties named in this proceeding include Leasing Expenses Company LLC; NLS Equipment Finance LLC; Leonard Mezei; Ariel Schacter; Sara Krieger; Jay Cohen; a Jay Cohen Family Trust; Fieldston Capital LLC; and JS Ventures Holding LLC.
Despite the extensive and public legal action against the company, Northern Leasing Systems appears to be still operating at some level, as per a promotional article from March 18, 2021, celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary penned by founder and president Jay Cohen posted to PRWeb, a promotional website. Additionally, some former customers report to the BBB that they continue to receive bills from Northern Leasing Systems, including for properties that the customers no longer own. According to some comments from customers, Northern Leasing Systems no longer answers communications, though they continue to list a phone number on their website.
Lease Finance Group Point of Sale
While it is not advised to work with them, the Lease Finance Group point-of-sale offerings are as follows according to their website: They offer equipment for processing credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, EBT, smart cards, and loyalty cards. They also offer check guarantee, check verification, and check authorization. They do not list what exact equipment they offer or any other services on their barebones website.
Part of the Northern Leasing Systems Network
Lease Finance Group is a merchant account equipment lease provider that goes by several alternate business names, including Northern Leasing Systems, MBF Leasing, Golden Eagle Leasing, and Lease Source-LSI, LLC. Lease Finance Group is not a merchant account provider; rather, it leases credit card processing equipment like terminals, printers, barcode scanners, and other point-of-sale technology. Lease Finance Group’s equipment leases are often packaged with the merchant accounts of payment processors, meaning that business owners are often unaware that they are signing up for service through multiple companies. The company is headquartered at 65 E. Wacker Place, Suite 510 Chicago, Illinois. Jay Cohen is the Chairman and CEO of Lease Finance Group’s parent company Northern Leasing Systems.
For a full analysis of the primary company in this network, please see our Northern Leasing Systems review.
Lease Finance Group Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Lease Finance Group offers 48-month, non-cancellable equipment leases that often cost many times the purchase price of the equipment.
- Complaints & Service: Lease Finance Group complaints number more than 750 on public complaints forums.
- BBB Rating: Lease Finance Group has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 13 complaints and 14 reviews in the last 3 years.
- Sales & Marketing: Lease Finance Group allows independent sales agents to package its equipment leases with other merchant accounts and has received an extremely high number of merchant complaints about its sales practices.
Lease Finance Group Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||1000+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Non-Cancellable Lease|
High Complaint Total
Lease Finance Group complaints number over 1000 online. Most cite many of the same issues identified in reviews of Northern Leasing Systems, namely long-term, non-cancellable leases, nondisclosure of full contract terms by sales agents, aggressive collections practices, and poor customer service. The standard Lease Finance Group contract is a non-cancellable 48-month agreement, meaning that merchants will be on the hook for all 48 months of the contract the second they sign it. To compound the issue, these contracts are often worth thousands of dollars—up to ten times the purchase cost of the actual equipment.
It is not difficult to find a Lease Finance Group complaint that calls the company a scam. A search for “Lease Finance Group” turns up an astounding 692 complaints on the consumer protection website Ripoff Report, and hundreds more can be found on other similar websites under the company’s various DBAs. There is even a dedicated Facebook group over 1,000 members strong that was created to assist others that feel scammed by Lease Finance Group.
Lease Finance Group Lawsuits and Fines
In March 2013, the New York Attorney General reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Northern Leasing and its affiliated companies over a scheme to drain nearly $11 million from the bank accounts of small business owners. The case alleged that Northern Leasing had created a shell company called SKS Associates LLC, through which Northern Leasing misled customers and began withdrawing lease payments from merchants’ bank accounts long after their leases had expired. Although this settlement concludes the Attorney General’s lawsuit and appears to be the end of SKS Associates, Northern Leasing and its related companies are still doing business and have grown into a very large equipment leasing network.
In April 2016, the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Northern Leasing Systems, Lease Finance Group, and MBF Leasing “for their fraudulent and deceptive practices that trap small business owners across the country.” The lawsuit alleges that Northern Leasing Systems and its subsidiaries knowingly deceived thousands of business owners into buying overpriced equipment and then abused the judicial system by filing suit in New York to collect on overdue lease payments. The lawsuit seeks to vacate default judgments obtained by Northern Leasing against business owners, enjoin the company and its owners from further deceptive practices, obtain restitution for merchants, dissolve Northern Leasing, and force the company to notify all three major credit reporting agencies that the default judgments have been vacated. It was allowed to proceed in December 2017 and was resolved in June 2020 with a victory for the New York Attorney General, providing relief to thousands of small business owners. This marked the second action that the New York Attorney General took against Lease Finance Group. Merchants who have been harmed by Lease Finance Group are instructed to take no further action at this time. Restitution amounts will be set at a later date.
In 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the 2020 decision and the New York Attorney General made a further decision and order shutting down subsidiary companies that Northern Leasing Systems was allegedly using to attempt to continue to enforce their voided leases.
Lease Finance Group Customer Service Options
The company has a dedicated customer service phone number on its website, but this channel is not sufficient to qualify it as a top-rated provider for customer service.
Lease Finance Group Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
|Product & Service Complaints||8|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||4|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||0|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
Nearly 20 Complaints
Unlike MBF Leasing, LLC and other affiliates of Northern Leasing Systems, Lease Finance Group has its own dedicated BBB profile. The Better Business Bureau currently assigns Lease Finance Group an “F” rating, though the company is not BBB-accredited. In a previous review, the BBB made mention of the New York AG’s lawsuit filed in 2016 and subsequent government action. At this time, Lease Finance Group is showing 13 complaints filed in the last 36 months. 8 of the complaints were related to the product or service, 4 were due to billing or collections issues, and 1 concerned delivery. Only 1 of these 13 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 12 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
Lease Finance Group has also received 14 informal reviews to its profile, all negative in tone. One merchant review expresses frustration at difficulty reaching representatives to discuss their lease and missing equipment:
This predatory company scammed us out of over $10k in the past five years. Over that time, I have made NUMEROUS attempts to discuss the lease on equipment we didn’t EVEN USE and never got a response until I cancelled our payments. This company used a salesperson who lied straight to our faces, put an extra piece of equipment on our lease that we never RECEIVED and now we have to pay another $1,200 to end this. I asked to speak to this “customer service” person’s manager and they said they could get back to me in “5-10 business days.” ARE YOU SERIOUS?????? This is exactly why this industry has such a bad reputation, and anyone working for this absolute garbage company should be ashamed of themselves.
Merchants who have been victims of fraudulent activity should be sure to review all of their available options for legal recourse.
A Well-Deserved “F”
In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, the former BBB notice about the New York AG’s lawsuit, and its affiliation with Northern Leasing Systems, we agree with the BBB’s rating of an “F.”
Lease Finance Group Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Early Termination Fee||Liquidated Damages|
|PCI Compliance Fee||N/A|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Month (locked)|
Lease Finance Group Contract Terms
The standard Lease Finance Group Lease Agreement is a non-cancellable 48-month agreement, which means that upon signing the lease, merchants are obligated to pay the full cost of the four-year lease whether they use the equipment or not. The full cost of a standard Lease Finance Group contract appears to be several thousand dollars, often up to ten times the cost of purchasing the leased equipment independently. It should be noted that most credit card terminals can be purchased for under $500. Non-cancellable, long-term leases mean a merchant can pay thousands for that same equipment making them a contract term to avoid. We encourage merchants to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.
Contract Termination Issues
To terminate the contract, merchants can either notify Lease Finance Group of their intent to terminate the contract, return the equipment, and pay the remaining balance; or they can purchase the equipment and pay the remaining balance. Either way, they will be on the hook for the remaining monthly payments. It appears to be standard Lease Finance Group fees policy to simply withdraw the amounts owed on delinquent accounts in monthly or lump sums, often without ever notifying the merchant. The vast majority of complaints online indicate widespread dissatisfaction with these contract terms, and we are inclined to agree with the merchants in this case. Lease Finance Group rates and policies are not competitive with the equipment rental terms offered by cheap merchant account providers.
Lease Finance Group Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Reselling with No Oversight
Lease Finance Group allows independent sales agents with any merchant account provider in the industry to resell its equipment leases as an addendum to his or her usual merchant account contracts. Lease Finance Group appears to exercise little-to-no oversight when it comes to how the agents sell its products, but it will typically enforce the full terms of the agreements that are signed. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
Widespread Sales Issue
We have found hundreds of negative Lease Finance Group complaints filed against the company and its DBAs that allege that the sales agent did not fully disclose the conditions of the equipment lease. There are also numerous reports of aggressive collections efforts by Lease Finance Group, even when merchants state that they were completely duped into signing the agreement. In general, there is no positive information to be found about Lease Finance Group’s sales approach, and the company has earned an “F” in this category. We recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to renegotiate the terms of tricky equipment leases.
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