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In case you missed it, the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus sent a powerful letter to Regions Bank this week. Regions is the Alabama bank that’s trying to reintroduce the banned practice of high-cost, predatory payday lending in the state. The group joins Attorney General Roy Cooper and a large group of consumer protection groups calling on Regions to halt making the loans — which can have interest rates as high as 365% APR.

 

 

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Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it on the money this morning in an excellent editorial about Regions Bank’s attempt to reintroduce predatory payday lending in North Carolina.  

“We do not want North Carolina consumers subjected to payday loans,” [Attorney General Roy] Cooper said. “Payday loans are like a consumer needing a life preserver being thrown an anvil.” But it may be easier to complain about the bank than to do something about it.

Cooper defines what Regions is offering as a payday loan; the company characterizes it as money “intended to be used occasionally for emergencies.” For his part, Cooper wants to stop it, but the out-of-state charter held by Regions – and the fact that this is an online offering – complicate the attorney general’s position from a legal standpoint. Still, he should keep working on the issue with an aim to, borrowing from legendary lawman Barney Fife, “nip it … nip it in the bud.”

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As reported on the main NC Policy Watch site last week (It’s baaaack: Troubled Alabama bank tries to sneak payday lending back into North Carolina) at least one bank (Regions Bank out of Alabama) is trying to bring payday lending back into North Carolina after state lawmakers, regulators and advocates chased the practice away more than a decade ago.  

Mark Binker over at WRAL had more on the story over the holiday weekend, including the fact that a much larger and more respectable  institution, SunTrust Bank, may be considering doing its own shark impression as well. Let’s hope that SunTrust and others come to their senses and realize that payday lending is bad news for the state’s consumers and bank reputations.    

 

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Guess which group of predatory businesses (according to this very sobering story in Bloomberg Businessweek)  are, à la the gambling industry, using Indian tribes as a way of getting around state consumer protection laws?

Why it’s the bottom-feeding payday lender crowd!!

Sounds like the introduction of casino gambling into the state might just be the first of many more fun ways to bring the true genius of the unfettered free market to the Old North State.