Chattanooga-based payday lender LeadPile pledges to comply with law, ethical practices

photo Carey V . Brown owns several internet payday lending sites.

A member of a Chattanooga-based payday lending conglomerate says it will comply with the law, after the company was sued earlier this year for allegedly sending thousands of unwanted spam text messages.

"It is no secret that the online lending industry has faced increased scrutiny and enforcement lately, with some companies potentially facing fines for noncompliance," wrote Sam Valenzuela, president of LeadPile, in a blog post dated two days after the Times Free Press reported the story.

LeadPile was among a handful of companies named in a class-action lawsuit alleging that it broke the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unsolicited voice and text calls to cellphones. This is Valenzuela's first post on LeadPile's blog, which covers payday lending, digital marketing and motivational topics.

"Driven by its commitment to compliance and consumer protection, LeadPile has and will continue to work diligently with its partners and clients to help ensure consumers are protected and all lead transactions comply with government regulations," Valenzuela wrote.

LeadPile, which is controlled by Chattanooga payday lender and philanthropist Carey V. Brown, works directly with jointly-owned companies like Chattanooga-based Area203 Digital to direct consumers to a handful of payday websites Brown operates like, and Two of Brown's other companies - and Credit Payment Services - were also named in the class-action lawsuit.

Through emails, online ads and text messages, LeadPile drives customers to an intermediate website where visitors are directed to enter personal information to see if they qualify for a loan, before they are ultimately sent to one of Brown's actual websites. This places a legal buffer between the lending entity and the consumers who receive the marketing messages, attorneys allege.

"Make no mistake, LeadPile has invested significant time, money, and effort into consumer protection and compliance including people, process, and technology," Valenzuela wrote. "We want to assure all our stakeholders that LeadPile is committed to ethical business practices, consumer protection and compliance - a commitment that is strong today and will be strong tomorrow."

Contact Ellis Smith at or at 757-6315