HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) In any town, payday loan shops are a dime a dozen. They meet a need for people who find themselves in need of cash on the spot.
That immediate need is what Stephen Stetson, a policy analyst with Alabama Arise, says makes the customer the perfect target.
By design these loans are intended for the borrower not to be able to repay them, they want the borrower to come back in and roll the loan over. They come back and pay another round of fees and buy themselves another 2 weeks, so time after time, loan after loan you arent getting additional money, just paying fees, said Stetson.
Currently, the maximum APR for a payday loan is 456%. NerdWallet and Pew Charitable Trust puts the average APR in Alabama at 461%.
Past attempts to lower payday loan interest rates have failed. So this year lawmakers are taking a slightly different approach.
Senate Bill 335 and companion bill HB 531 would extend the amount of time a borrower has to pay back the loan, up to 6 months. In effect, lowering the interest rate to 36%.
It would give the borrower time to get their financial affairs in order and pay back the loan. That`s what we want, said Stetson.
Recently, the State Banking Department announced a plan to establish a central database for payday lenders. It would enforce a $500 limit on the amount of loans an individual can take out.
Erie City Council approves an ordinance to appropriate funds for a multi-year paving plan. Council approved an ordinance at this mornings meeting, allowing the refinancing of bonds that will help provide roughly eleven million dollars towards the citys paving project.
The project calls for street repairs to be made over the next four to five years.
Council member Bob Merski says paving will be underway soon now that the ordinance has passed.
Dennis Shauls recent op-ed in American Banker argues that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus proposed payday lending rules are too harsh. He also insists that the voices of payday lenders have been underrepresented in discussions about forthcoming regulations. Both assertions are inaccurate and off the mark.
The CFPBs proposed outline for small-dollar lending rules is not perfect. There are too many loopholes that might allow payday lenders to get around the ability-to-pay standard and not enough protections against abusive and deceptive lending practices. But they do offer common-sense protections that would help prevent the worst consumer abuses. While Shaul claims that the effect of the rules on the short-term credit market would be catastrophic, in reality these rules would only be catastrophic to lenders whose business model is dependent on trapping consumers in an endless cycle of debt and charging usurious interest rates.
Unfortunately, abusive lenders are all too common in our communities today. Take Candice, a fellow member of Illinois Peoples Action, a faith-based community organization of which I am board president. Candice took out a payday loan when her income hit a bump. But when the loan was due two weeks later, the lender took most of Candices paycheck leaving her with nothing left over to buy food or pay bills. So she took out a car title loan and online loans to try keep up with the debt. Candice lost her car, is deeply in debt and a bulk of her budget goes to paying fees on her loans. She is trapped deep in debt with no hope of paying off the loans.
As a minister, I take the Bibles condemnation of usury and abusive lending to heart. And as the leader of a congregation in an underserved area, Ive seen that abusive lending is alive and well today. There are more payday lending storefronts in the United States than there are McDonalds, in addition to thousands of unscrupulous lenders online. These lenders target communities of color and poor communities with outrageous interest rates.
What starts as a fast loan quickly becomes a financial nightmare. A study by the Center for Responsible Lending found that 94% of repeat payday loan borrowers take out another loan within a month of the previous one. The industry depends on desperate borrowers getting stuck in the debt cycle. In fact, a CFPB study found that three-quarters of payday loan fees came from borrowers with more than 10 transactions in a year. This means the payday loan industrys profits depend heavily on a small set of borrowers in real financial distress.
There will always be a need for small-dollar loans. But loans that trap people in debt, burden borrowers with triple-digit interest rates and confuse them with deceptive practices are simply abusive.
Shaul also claims that the CFPB needs to listen to the industry more. This is absurd. The payday loan industry has bought itself a huge megaphone in Washington with the billions of dollars that it wrings out of our distressed communities. In just the last two years, the industry has spent $13 million on political donations and lobbying Congress, according to the nonprofit Americans for Financial Reform. The voices that the CFPB must hear from and heed are the millions of American families who are harmed by abusive lending every year.
Shaul also says that payday lending can help Americans impacted by income inequality. But when payday lenders continue to strip billions of dollars from our poorest communities, they only widen the growing imbalance of wealth.
Helping the nearly 28 million Americans who lack access to traditional banking does not mean abandoning them to the hands of predators like payday lenders. As weve seen in states that have reined in the worst abuses of payday lenders, regulation doesnt make credit dry up. In fact, good lending rules mean that safe, responsible lenders finally have a chance to compete. In those states, banks, non-profits, credit unions and many others have stepped in to offer small-dollarcredit that helps families build a brighter future instead of sucking them down into financial disaster.
However, all too often, abusive lenders have slithered through loopholes. For example, five years after the Military Lending Act, a study by the Consumer Federation of America found that loopholes still left troops and their families vulnerable to predatory lenders. Candice and the millions like her who have been trapped in a cycle of debt need a stronger rule from the CFPB, not a weaker one.
The Rev. Tony Pierce is co-pastor of Heavens View Christian Fellowship in Peoria, Ill., and board president of Illinois Peoples Action, a member of National Peoples Action.
But around 4 am Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment authored by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to strip out the GOP language to delay the new rules. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, which passed 32 – 30 with support from five Republicans: Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.).
Consumer groups championed the vote, saying public pressure had prevented lawmakers from siding with banks over troops.
Faced with a choice between the banks and the troops, members of Congress rushed to side with the banks, Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said in a statement. But then something happened: The spotlight focused on their unconscionable effort to pay back campaign donors at the expense of the nation’s servicemen and women …. Even with a rigged system, the public interest can prevail over powerful industry interests, at least sometimes.
According to a 2014 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, interest rates on products targeting soldiers frequently soar to 300 percent or higher, far above the 36 percent interest rate cap imposed on payday lending to soldiers in 2006, thanks to loopholes in that cap. The study notes that these loans often cost soldiers thousands of dollars for very small advances. One family that took out a $2,600 loan ended up paying back $3,966.84 over the course of a year, according to the CFPB, while another borrower spent $1,428.28 to pay off a $485 loan in just six months.
Unmanageable debt is difficult for any family struggling to balance their finances, Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, said Wednesday. In the military, the burden can affect security clearances and advancement. Unscrupulous debt collectors go after service members deployed overseas and who are unable to answer claims. Credit is destroyed and lives are disrupted.
The 30 Republicans who voted to delay the protections for soldiers were Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), John Fleming (R-La.), J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), John Kline (R-Minn.), Steve Knight (R-Calif.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Robert Wittman (R-Va.) and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).
The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is planning to look for ways that the US-backed mortgage giants can make refinancing loans easier for borrowers.
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin L. Watt disclosed the push Friday at an event in which he announced an extension through 2016 of the two companies’ Home Affordable Refinance Program for loans issued before the housing crash and their use of the Home Affordable Modification Program for struggling borrowers.
The FHFA is “going to use this time to explore possible streamlined refinance solutions for future enterprise loans,” Watt said in remarks prepared for a Los Angeles speech. “This evaluation will consider the lessons learned from the HARP program and how those might apply in a non-crisis environment.”
North Carolina experimented with high-cost lending between 1997 and 2001 when payday loans were legal in our state. Now we are in danger of blessing usurious debt once again. We have in place a strong cap on usury, the practice of making loans at unreasonable interest rates.
State Sen. Rick Gunn, a R-Burlington, introduced SB 681 that would double or in some cases triple the interest rates on consumer installment loans. Current law caps the annual percentage rate on installment loans at about 40 percent. This bill would allow APRs as high as 80 percent to 125 percent. This increase would come just two years after the same lenders persuaded the legislature to allow them to charge higher rates on a large swath of loans.
Gunn’s bill would hurt North Carolina families and violate our shared desire to create and sustain life-giving community and support of abundant life for all. Interest rates of 80 percent are usurious and violate our highest values. People of faith are called by God to help the poor, never to take advantage of them.
We give thanks that payday loans have been illegal in North Carolina since 2001. Research is clear that payday loans are debt-trap loans, designed to keep borrowers in debt at high interest rates as long as possible. SB 681, with its extraordinarily high interest rates and fees, would also keep borrowers in debt at high interest rates, leading to another form of debt-trap lending.
Federal regulators are well aware of the problems created by debt-trap loans. The Department of Defense proposed new rules to cap interest rates on installment loans to members of the military at an all-inclusive 36 percent APR, much less than the limits authorized by SB 681.
On another front, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering a proposal to protect the broader public by reining in installment, payday and car-title lending abuses. The proposal is smart, fair and flexible, but it does include a loophole that advocates will be pushing the CFPB to close – an option that lets lenders make some loans without determining whether a consumer has the ability to repay the loan without renewing the loan or falling behind on other bills.
No one in North Carolina should have to choose between paying off a predatory lender and putting food on the table for her family or heating his home.
The protections we have in North Carolina were the result of great effort. North Carolina was the first state to ban payday lending after it was made legal. After the ban, the NC attorney general and the commissioner of banks led a years-long campaign against predatory lenders who used various schemes to stay open. This experience should show legislators and federal regulators the perils of loopholes or laws opening the door to predatory lenders again.
Our General Assembly and our federal regulators need to protect our citizens from debt-trap loans. A strong state usury cap, like ours in North Carolina, is the most effective way to prevent high-cost lending. CFPB by statute is not allowed to set a federal usury cap; therefore, our state legislators must maintain our strong North Carolina cap to keep debt trap loans illegal in our state.
It is imperative that we urge our legislators for continued protection against usury so that predatory lenders do not have opportunity to trap our neighbors in crushing debt.
Hope Morgan Ward of Garner is the resident bishop of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church. This article originally appeared in the News amp; Observer of Raleigh and is reprinted with its permission.
Jobseekers in Ashfield are to be given advice on better money management at two special workshops, hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council Work Clubs.
Money advisors from Ashfield Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will provide help with personal budgeting, tips on how to increase income and reduce outgoings and explain the impact of changes to the benefits system.
The event is being held at Kirkby Work Club, Kirkby Library, Ashfield Precinct (opposite Morrisons), on Friday 17 April, from 10am until 12 noon.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) The Anthem data breach last February has customers concerned their stolen info may be used, or may have already been used, to file fraudulent tax returns.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who has taken the lead in tracking and monitoring the fallout from the breach, said to date there is no hard evidence that stolen information has been used to file fraudulent tax returns.
However, he strongly advises those impacted by the breach to get free credit monitoring offered by Anthem.
ST. LOUIS (KPLR) Medical insurance giant Anthem, Inc. is offering identity protection services to its members. Its an unprecedented response to a data breach. At least a million people in Missouri are potential victims. And they like almost 80 million nationwide can begin to feel more secure as a result of the offer.
Letters announcing the service are being mailed out. Susan Doerge and her husband are Anthem members. She received her letter in late March. Doerge like many others assumed they were automatically enrolled for the credit monitoring service. But after reading the letter again Doerge realized she`d have to enroll with ALLClear ID. Doerge says she wants to stay ahead of the bad guys. I wanted to be as proactive as possible. I didn`t want to have to be calling ALLClear ID after a problem comes up. So I did enroll in that plan.
Anthem Incorporated has arranged three services for its members. First, in the event you suffer losses because your personal information has been used by someone else Identity repair assistance guarantees investigators will work to recover financial losses, restore credit, and return identity to member.
Second, Credit monitoring alerts members if there is an attempt to use their identity to open new credit accounts. This includes a one million dollar identity theft insurance policy.
And third, child identity protection searches thousands of databases for information that could point to acts of fraud against the children of Anthem members. The alerts are available free of charge for two years. And there was other useful information contained in the letter according to Doerge. One thing they did point out is not to accept any emails that say they`re from Anthem because most likely that will be a scam. They were only notifying people by US Mail.
Anthem, Inc. reports hackers got names, birthdays, medical ids, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and employee’s income data. Doerge who also suffered Income tax fraud this year can`t say for sure the Anthem breach opened the door for the fraudulent return filed in her name. She`s accepted the fact that identity theft is the new normal. Unfortunately it`s a problem that thousands and thousands of people if not millions have been effected by it.
Remember, current or former members going back ten years could be impacted by the data breach. So, these services are for you. Below is a link to Anthems website and a phone number for information about enrolling in the identity protection program. And if you have a consumer issue, call our Call for Action hotline. The number is 800-782-2222. The line is open Monday through Thursday between 11 am and 1 pm.
Those without Internet access can call 877-263-7995.
We have a problem, is what News 3s Susan Siman heard when she got the voicemail from her tax preparer.
Its sort of like getting a call from the doctor, Wed like to talk to you. You know thats usually not good news, she said after hearing the news that someone else had filed tax returns at the IRS under her name, using her and her husbands Social Security numbers. I was flabbergasted.
Siman is one of a growing number of people whose identities have been stolen this tax season along with their refunds. The journalist known for conducting conversations with people throughout southern Wisconsin now finds herself wondering about the question she knows she cant answer.
Is this ever going to have a resolution, or for the rest of our lives, are we going to have a guillotine over our head, watching and wondering what someones going to do with our identity? she said. The anxiety and uncertainty is toxic.
The federal government estimated that $5.8 billion in fraudulent returns were paid out in 2013 and local police departments and accounting agencies are convinced this years numbers will be even higher.
Weve probably had 30 clients this year, right here in our firm alone, that that has happened to, said Marshall Mennenga, whose firm worked with Susan and her husband. Thats a lot of clients in a small area.
He said hes been doing taxes since the early 1970s and never remembers a time when the fraudulent activity was so prevalent.
I really think people are in the dark and dont realize what can happen, he said. I dont want to scare everybody, but in todays environment with whats happening, its very important to take the steps to protect your Social Security number and your identity.
Siman has no idea how her familys personal information was compromised, but knows her future now includes regular credit monitoring, extra legwork to complete future years tax returns and what she calls a vulnerable feeling as it relates to her SSN and her identity.
Everything in life is tied to this number, she said. You cant get another Social Security number. Its not something you can exchange. Its your identity. Its your credit report. Its everything, and I have no idea who has it or how they got it.
The IRS reports that from 2011 to 2014 it has prevented 19 million suspicious returns and protected more than $63 billion in fraudulent refunds.
Among the tips the governmental agency recommends for preventing tax-related identity theft is to file returns as early as possible and to request an identity protection PIN number, a six-digit password that can help the IRS verify your identity.