Online lenders, led by San Francisco's Lending Club, have grown explosively over the last few years, lending billions to consumers who can quickly get large sums by simply filling out a few online forms. Now state and federal officials look to be taking steps toward more tightly regulating the industry.

"It's likely a signal that the bureau has decided to send to companies: Watch out, our eyes are on you," said Scott Pearson, a partner in the Los Angeles office of law firm Ballard Spahr who represents marketplace lenders. "It's a sign that the regulators are paying attention to what marketplace lenders are doing."

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Scott M. Pearson