Search Results for 'payday'
Here’s one way that deregulation has worked in Texas:
Large corporations that operate payday lenders, many of them based in Texas, have been steady contributors to Perry’s political campaigns over the last decade, donating upwards of $200,000, according to Texas campaign finance disclosure statements. In 2004, Perry appointed William J. White, a senior executive of one of the nation’s largest payday lending corporations, Cash America International, to a seat on the Texas Finance Commission, which is tasked in part with protecting the state’s consumers. Two years ago, the governor elevated White to the chairmanship of that body.
To put this topic in perspective, think of the terrible old banker, Mr. Potter, featured in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Mr. Potter drove a very hard bargain, but he wanted customers to actually pay off their loans. Keep in mind that Mr. Potter was lending out money at about 2%. If Mr. Potter could have charge as much as many credit card companies, he would want to stretch out his repayment plans. And if he could charge 500%, he might not actually ever want his loans to be repaid. Welcome to the world of payday lending.
During the day I work as a consumer lawyer at the Simon Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri. My firm has filed several class actions again payday lenders based on their outrageous lending practices–on many occasions they systematically ignore the weak state laws that ostensibly regulate their conduct. At my firm, we’ve met undeniable facts demonstrating that payday lenders make most of their money from people they would term “repeat customers,” but these people should more accurately be referred to as people who are trapped in high interest loans or 400% or even 500% interest.
A group called Grass Roots Organizing (GRO) held a rally in front of the Bank of America Building in downtown St. Louis, announcing that big banks are quietly financing the biggest payday lending companies. The announcement was based on a report issued by National People’s Action out of Chicago.
I videotaped portions of the rally, which was led by an energized woman named Robin Acree, Executive Director of GRO. When you understand how payday lenders operate (and subvert the political process), you’ll also understand why it takes some spunk to stand up to the lenders and to expose these shady dealings. [Note: Acree's microphone had malfunctioned just prior to this segment--she was still carrying it, but it wasn't working].
After seeing a bit of Acree’s presentation, you’ll see a two-minute confession by Graham McCaulley, who formerly worked at a payday lender and offers a laundry list of the unscrupulous practices he saw first hand.
Consider that these two presentations constitute a formidable indictment of big banks. Here’s an excerpt from the NPA document handed out at the St. Louis Rally:
Major payday loan companies receive their funding from the largest national banks . . . Major banks provide over $1.5 Billion in credit available to fund major payday lending companies . . . The major banks funding payday lending include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, JP Morgan Bank, and National City (PNC Financial Services Group) . . . Our analysis find that the major banks indirectly fund approximately 450,000 payday loans per year totaling $16.4 Billion in short-term payday loans . . . Major banks access credit from the Federal Reserve discount window at 0.5% or less, these banks extend an estimated $1.5 Billion annually to eight major payday lending companies, who in turn use this credit to issue millions of payday loans to consumers every year at average rates of 400% APR.
For a lot more information about 400% payday loans and why they should be outlawed, see this earlier post, which includes a powerful video of St. Louis attorney John Campbell (John and I work together as consumer lawyers at the Simon Law Firm). And isn’t it incredible that it is almost impossible to convince state legislators to cap consumer loans at the substantial rate of 36%? Sad but true.
As I indicated here, Missouri is considering a 36% rate cap for payday loans. Currently, payday lenders often charge 400% and 500% interest on such loans that are financially devastating to the poor and the working poor (Missouri’s 9% “usury” cap does not apply to payday loans).
Bill 2116 is now pending before The House Committee on Financial Institutions, which is chaired by Republican State Representative Mike Cunningham. This important bill will not get a hearing unless Mr. Cunningham decides to grant a hearing, at his discretion. This single bill, HB 2116, “combines two bills filed by Representative Mary Still in January into one bill dealing with both annual percentage rates (APR) caps and restrictions of nursing homes offering payday services to employees.”
Here’s how you can help. Please consider writing to Mr. Cunningham today, requesting him to hold a hearing regarding Bill 2116, to consider capping Missouri payday loans at 36% interest. Your letter can be two sentences, or you can spell out your reasons in more detail.
Mr. Cunningham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . His snail mail address is:
Representative Mike Cunningham
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 411-2
Jefferson City MO 65101
Office Phone: 573-751-3819
Even a small number of emails, faxes or letters will make a big difference. If you want to be part of a citizens’ movement cap interest rates of payday loans at 36%, please take a moment to write to Mr. Cunningham. I can’t emphasize enough that your single email, fax or letter could be the difference between this bill getting a hearing, or nothing being done.
As for the detailed reasons for imposing a rate cap, see my earlier post on the proposed legislation. I have also inserted (below) a letter written by John Campbell (an attorney with whom I work). Thank you so very much for considering this. Please do consider sending me a copy of any emails you send to Mr. Cunningham.
[Letter from John Campbell to Mr. Cunningham]
I am writing to request that the House Committee on Financial Institutions grant a hearing on Bill 2116, a bill to limit the interest rate on payday loans to 36%.
I have extensive personal experience with payday loans. I am an attorney, and I spend much of my time representing consumers. In the course of my practice, I have talked with dozens of payday loan borrowers. Their stories are remarkably similar. Payday loan borrowers are generally low wage earners with high school degrees or less, and they are typically in desperate situations when they go to a payday lender. In my experience, payday loans lead to create a debt cycle that is difficult for most borrowers to escape.
[more . . . ]
I represent consumers in several class actions against payday lenders. The suits are all based in Missouri, but payday lenders freely do business in most states.
What are “payday lenders?” Here is a six minute video by the Center for Responsible Lending that will give you a good idea. To best understand what goes on, ignore the industry rhetoric. Instead, recognize that payday loan shops commonly charge more than 400% interest to the working poor, setting people up in debt traps from which the end result is financial ruin. Why not simply ban shops that engage in these practices? Good question. Ask your elected state and federal representatives why the hell they aren’t taking serious action. Hint: the problem has a lot to do with campaign contributions.
One more thing: the payday loan shops try to exculpate themselves with arbitration clauses that ban all class actions and class arbitrations. These clauses make it extra difficult to successfully sue these businesses, even when they are flagrantly violating the loan laws that do exist. By using these mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses, payday lenders are essentially giving themselves Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards.