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Predatory loansIn case you missed it over the weekend, the New York Times ran a thoroughly logical editorial that rightfully called for federal regulation to crack down on the scam artists who sell payday loans and other similar debt traps in numerous states across the country.

As the editorial rightfully notes, it’s all well and good to propose and enact laws like the “Military Lending Act,” which seeks to prevent our military personnel from getting caught up in these rip-offs, but the same logic obviously applies to other vulnerable consumers as well:

“Poor and working-class people across the country are being driven into poverty and default by deceptively packaged, usuriously priced loans. The obvious solution is a national standard for consumer lending. Both the House and Senate have bills pending that would adopt the 36 percent standard for all consumer transactions, including those involving payday loans, mortgages, car loans, credit cards, overdraft loans and so on.”

And while North Carolina has done a better job than many states in protecting its citizenry from the scammers, there’s plenty that comprehensive federal regulation which sets a ceiling on rates would do to benefit us — not the least of which is the way it could cut back on the flood of money spent by the loan industry on buying political influence and corrupting our politics.

The bottom line: What’s good for protecting our service members is good for protecting all consumers. If Congress had even a smidgen of courage, it would enact such legislation ASAP.

 

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3-4-13-NCPW-CARTOONTomorrow the North Carolina House Banking Committee will hear proposed legislation (already passed by the Senate) to jack up rates on already exorbitantly priced installment loans.

And in case you had any doubts as to what the proposal (and others like it) are at least partially about, check out this news story from earlier today over at Bloomberg News:

Payday Lenders Evading Rules Pivot to Installment Loans

For three years, payday lenders have been bracing for dedicated scrutiny from a U.S. agency for the first time. One way they’re getting ready: switching to loans designed to fall outside the regulator’s grasp.

Companies including Cash America International Inc. (CSH) and Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc. (AEA) are increasingly selling longer-term installment loans to avoid rules the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may impose on their shorter-term products.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

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Loan sharksThere’s a common perception in the General Assembly these days that storefront consumer finance shops are not as bad a payday lenders. Indeed, this has been a common explanation offered by members of the Senate as they advanced legislation in recent weeks that will jack up the interest rates on consumer finance loans. 

If this is true, however, the difference between the two predators is just a matter of degrees, not basic characteristics. If payday lenders  are the great white shark of small loan predators, then finance companies are the tiger sharks. This truth is made clear in a new and powerful article from the muckrakers at the national news website, Pro Publica entitled “The 182 Percent Loan: How Installment Lenders Put Borrowers in a World of Hurt.” Read More

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Pat McCrory 2Raleigh’s News & Observer reports that Gov. McCrory has given a “thumbs down” on the proposal to re-legalize payday lending in North Carolina. Meanwhile over at the General Assembly, there’s no word whether bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman slammed any doors when he heard the news, but reliable reports indicate that the Senator is, shall we say, seriously miffed at the Guv.

Let’s hope McCrory sticks to his position anyway and kills this nutty idea before it goes any further.

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Payday loansThe NC Justice Center reports:

A  new poll released today shows staggeringly low levels of support for a bill that would legalize loans of up to 300 percent in North Carolina. Indeed, nearly three-fourths of North Carolinians say they would be less likely to vote for a legislator that supported the bill.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows that only seven percent of North Carolinians support the push to legalize payday lending in North Carolina, compared with 73 percent who would like to see current lending limits remain intact.

Current law allows interest rates of up to 54 percent, but a new bill, Senate Bill 89, would allow payday lenders to charge an annual percentage rate well above 300 percent.

Significantly, seven out of 10 respondents say that they would oppose the law even if they knew for sure it would create jobs and allow easier access to credit.

The poll has serious implications for lawmakers. Read More