By Carter Dougherty

In the business known as payday lending, one of the biggest players lends no money at all. promises loans of as much as $1,000 to people in need of quick cash, advertising widely on TV and online with former talk show host Montel Williams as its public face. In small type at the bottom of the screen, the company disclaims that it is “not a lender.” generates leads for firms specializing in short-term, high-interest loans. It’s the most prominent of a new breed of Internet middlemen who’ve prospered as the $32 billion payday loan market migrates from storefronts to the Web.

Lead generators typically take applications on their websites and then immediately auction the prospects to lenders.

As the business grows, regulators have been reviewing complaints from consumers that their financial data has been misused or stolen after entering the auction system.

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