The Minnesota Commerce Department and Attorney General has reached a sweeping $4.5 million settlement with a California-based internet payday lending company that victimized thousands of Minnesotans with illegal, high-interest loans.
The settlement is with CashCall Inc., its affiliated companies and owner J. Paul Reddam.
For Minnesotans who were victimized by CashCall, this settlement will cancel their debts on these predatory loans and provide restitution for the excessive interest and fees they already paid, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement.
We are committed to protecting consumers and cracking down on illegal, deceptive lending practices that prey on vulnerable Minnesotans.
CashCall financed high-interest, quick-approval payday loans to consumers online, according to a news release.
Officials say CashCall tried to evade state consumer protections by improperly invoking tribal sovereign immunity and doing business through a front company, Western Sky Financial, a company created with ownership by a man who was a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
However, the actual tribe had no affiliation with the business.
The Commerce Department and Attorney General jointly filed a lawsuit against CashCall, alleging that the company engaged in unlicensed lending in Minnesota, falsely claimed tribal affiliation to circumvent state laws and illegally charged annual interest rates as high as 342 percent.
Under the terms of the consent judgment and order filed in Hennepin County District Court, CashCall is required to:
- Pay a $4.5 million settlement that will be used for restitution to Minnesota consumers who paid interest and fees on Western Sky loans in excess of what state law allows.
- Stop collecting payments on all loans issued by Western Sky, and stop the sale or transfer of Western Sky loans to any third parties.
- Cancel any current debts on loans issued by Western Sky to Minnesota consumers.
- Send a notice to inform every Minnesota consumer with a loan issued by Western Sky that the loan is canceled, with no further payments due.
- Notify credit reporting agencies to withdraw all reports submitted by the company on Minnesota consumers.
- Notify all third parties that bought or acquired Western Sky loans that these loans are canceled.
- Provide a full, detailed list of all loans issued by Western Sky, which will be used to determine restitution payments to Minnesota consumers.
The company, its affiliated companies and owner Reddam are also prohibited from consumer lending in Minnesota unless they are properly licensed and comply with state laws.
Payday loan companies, whether online or on the corner, need to be licensed and follow the lending laws that protect Minnesota consumers from excessive interest and fees, said Rothman.
Unlicensed lenders are a continuing problem as they prey on consumers who may be in difficult financial straits and turn to payday loan websites to get fast cash.
Rothman encourages Minnesota consumers to protect themselves by checking with the Commerce Department before doing business with an online payday lender to confirm that it is licensed by the state.
A license lookup tool is available on the department’s website.
Image via Shutterstock
Dangerous, high-cost lending isn’t going away anytime soon.
While some have heralded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s long-awaited payday-lending regulations as significant progress toward the end of predatory lending practices, other, similar products have, as predicted, started to take their place.
One of the biggest criticisms of the traditional payday-loan structure was that it required a large, lump-sum payment of principal plus interest. If–or more often, when–borrowers were unable to find the cash to pay back their very short-term loans with interest that reached the triple digits, these loans would be rolled into yet another short-term, lump-sum loan. And so the cycle went.
An uptick in what are called installment loans is the payday industry’s answer to that criticism–or, more precisely, the regulations that that criticism led to. Instead of making a lump-sum payment, installment-loan borrowers take out loans that are paid off a bit at a time, over a longer period of time. Installment loans are nothing new, and the same lenders who once predominantly peddled payday loans have been trying their hand at installment loans for some time, too. But now, they may try to make them a significantly larger share of their business. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that in 2015, lenders provided nearly $25 billion in installment loans to people with credit scores below 600. That’s 78 percent higher than the year before.
TAMPA (FOX 13) – As teens who got their licenses over the summer hit the road to school, getting them insured can hit you in the wallet. Recent surveys show that your insurance can go up nearly 100 percent when you add that teenager.
Thats a big jump, obviously, and something you want to prepare for before it actually happens, offered AJ Smith of Smart Asset financial advising.
Stats show young drivers are involved in more accidents, backing up the higher rates, but she says there are some steps you can take to cut costs.
First, many insurers will offer discounts if your teen takes a defensive driving course.
Next, the type of car makes a difference.
Your teen may be pushing for a brand new fancy car, but it actually costs more to insure those so maybe start off with one thats still safe but not quite as new, continued Smith.
And finally, getting good grades can pay off. Some insurers will actually give you a discount if your child does well in school.
When it comes to keeping new drivers safe, there are also a growing number of apps.
For example, Drivescribe notifies parents of dangerous driving and awards your teen points that are redeemable on Amazon for safe driving. Drivesafe.ly Pro makes your teens phone hands-free and voice activated. And Mamabear lets parents see where their kids are all the time via GPS tracking. It notifies you if certain speeds are exceeded, when kids arrive and leave preset places, and even lets you see social media interaction.
Most offer free trial periods so you may want to test-drive a few to find the one that suits your family the best.
Payday lending has come under attack in recent years for exploiting low-income borrowers and trapping them in a cycle of debt. The problem has grown to such an extent that last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new rules to rein in the most egregious abuses by payday lenders.
Yet payday lenders are not alone in profiting from the struggles of low-income communities with deceptive loans that, all too often, send people into crushing debt. In fact, such targeting has grown common among industries ranging from student loan providers to mortgage lenders.
For decades, redlining denied black people and other communities of color access to mortgages, bank accounts and other important services. Today, black and brown women are similarly being #x201c;pinklined#x201d; with lending schemes that deny them the opportunity for a better life.
A recent report underlines the toll these practices have taken on women of color. Among other alarming statistics, the report shows that 6 out of 10 payday loan customers are women, that black women were 256 percent more likely than their white male counterparts to receive a subprime loan, and that women of color are stuck paying off student debt for far longer than men. It also shows that aggressive lending practices from payday lending to subprime mortgages have grown dramatically in recent years.
In Los Angeles, debt is a dark cloud looming over the lives of thousands of low-income women all over the city.
Barbara took over the mortgage for her family#x2019;s home in South Central Los Angeles in 1988. She had a good job working for Hughes Aircraft until she was injured on the job in 1999 and took an early retirement. To better care for an aging mother living with her, she took out a subprime loan for a bathroom renovation.
The interest rate on the new loan steadily climbed, until she could barely afford to make monthly payments. She took out credit cards just to stay afloat, burying her under an even higher mountain of debt. To survive, she asked her brother to move in, while her son also helped out with the bills.
Numerous studies have shown that borrowers with strong credit #x2014; especially black women and Latinas #x2014; were steered toward subprime loans even when they could qualify for those with lower rates.
Women of color pay a massive price for such recklessness. The stress of dealing with debt hurts women in a variety of ways.
Alexandra, a former military officer, lost her partner, the father to her daughter, after a protracted struggle with ballooning subprime loan payments. The credit card debt she needed to take out as a result threatened her health, leaving her with hair loss, neck pain and sleep deprivation. She eventually needed to file for bankruptcy to settle the debt.
Ever take a look at the Forbes 400 annual listing of Americans with more than $1.7 billion in holdingsthere are only two Blacks listed. Even though we keep celebrating the fact that African Americans buying power reached $1.1 trillion in 2015, Black wealth still lags woefully behind that of white Americans. Due to a lack a wealth building in the Black communitywe tend to spend our money outside the community and dont save or invest as muchit will take Blacks in America hundreds of years to just to catch up to white wealth.
The payday lending industry is evolving, but its newest products may simply provide consumers with a different route into a money hole.
Payday lenders are increasingly turning to installment loans, with all of Americas biggest payday lending companies now selling the products, according to new research from Pew Charitable Trusts. Instead of requiring repayment of a loan within days or weeks, these products are repayable over several months.
On the face of it, these loans may seem like a better deal for borrowers because they provide more time to repay the lender, and consumers tend to prefer an installment payment structure, Pew found. Yet the foundation is warning that the installment loans carry many of the same hallmarks of the traditional payday loans, such as sky-high interest rates. And lenders are shifting to installment loans partly because the products sidestep some state regulations and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus (CFPB) proposed payday lending rules.
Lancaster poverty commission to hear Thursday about Richmond, Va.’s push to end segregation, reduce poverty
Thad Williamson, an associate professor at the University of Richmond, was the principal author of Richmonds poverty commission report. While on leave from the university, he was the first director of Richmonds new Office of Community Wealth Building.
Payday loans are a Wall Street/financial industry scheme/scam that preys on people with low incomes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on rules to reign this in and protected Americans. They want to hear from you. Please join the fight by clicking here to send a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule.
A Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment on auto lending, which is similar to payday lending.
Loans Used To Be Safe And Boring
The financial industry and the loans they made used to be regular and boring – all about evaluating risk. They would look at a borrowers financial situation and at the proposed use of the borrowed funds and decide how risky a loan might be, and price the loan (come up with an interest rate) accordingly. If the risk was just too high they wouldnt make the loan at all.
Another thing that used to be was the old saying that you couldnt get a loan unless you didnt need the money. This actually made sense because getting a loan was supposed to be for a purchase that might be larger than you can handle all at once but that enabled you to increase your ability to pay back the loan. Buying a car meant you could get to work. Buying a house meant you could stop paying rent. A college loan meant you could get a higher-paying job. Expanding a business meant making more money that can be used to pay off the loan. You werent supposed to be able to get in over your head.
A loan certainly was never about getting money just to get by for another few weeks. (You used to have to go to the mafia for that, and everyone knew you could get your legs broken if you did.) Usury laws made sure people couldnt legally get in over their heads by limiting the interest rate that could be charged so if a borrower was high-risk the lender couldnt legally price the loan accordingly by charging a high enough interest rate to make it worthwhile.
Then Came Financial Deregulation
With financial deregulation a different, much less boring kind of loan industry sprang up: payday lending. Instead of evaluating risk in order to block loans to people who couldnt pay the loan back, the payday loan industry tries to find poor, desperate people, dangles loans in front of them, and then traps them into a cycle that drains them of everything.
The debt trap is the actual business model, and they say so.
One payday loan CEO said of their “customers”: “The theory in the business is [that] you’ve got to get that customer in, work to turn him into a repetitive customer, long-term customer, because that’s really where the profitability is.”
Another payday lender even put out a training manual for new employees, saying to employees that their job is to push borrowers from one payday loan to the next.
The chairman of the payday lender-supported Consumer Credit Research Foundation and president of the Payday Loan Bar Association wrote an email saying, “In practice, consumers mostly either roll over or default; very few actually repay their loans in cash on the due date.”
Payday lenders can find lots of desperate people in todays low-wage America. A survey from Bankrate.com showed that as many as 63 percent of Americans would be strapped to raise $500 if they needed it in a crisis.
There are plenty of people who are unbanked (do not have a bank account) or underbanked (can’t otherwise get a loan). So they look for another way to get a loan in an emergency or cash a paycheck. According to the 2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, 7.7 percent (one in 13) of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013. This proportion represented nearly 9.6 million households. On top of that, 20.0 percent of US households (24.8 million) were underbanked in 2013, meaning that they had a bank account but also used alternative financial services (AFS) outside of the banking system.
More Facts And Figures
This year the National Council of LaRaza and The Center for Responsible Lending looked at the situation just in Florida and released a report titled, “Perfect Storm: Payday Lenders Harm Florida Consumers Despite State Law.” According to the report,
? Interest rates average 278 percent.
? In Florida there are more payday loan stores than Starbucks (more than 1,100 outlets vs, 642 Starbucks).
? Payday lenders “stripped” Floridians of over $2.5 billion in fees between 2005 and 2016.
? “Last year, over 83 percent of Florida payday loans were to Floridians stuck in 7 or more loans.”
? “The average borrower takes out more than 8 loans per year.”
? “The economic drain of payday lending is disproportionately concentrated in Florida’s black and Latino communities, and has seen significant growth among senior citizens.”
That was Florida. Here are some national facts from Americans for Payday Lending Reform (a project of People’s Action):
? Thirty-five states allow payday lending with an average of 300 percent APR or more on a two-week loan. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/23/13]
? CFPB: 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over into new loans within 14 days. [Yahoo Finance, 8/13/14]
? CFPB: 20 percent of new payday loans cost the borrowers more than the amount borrowed. [Yahoo Finance, 8/13/14]
? An average payday loan claims a third of a borrower’s next paycheck. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/13/14]
? CFPB: half of all borrowers took out at least 10 sequential loans. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/13/14]
? CFPB: 60 percent of payday loans are renewed seven or more times in a row, typically adding a 15 percent fee for every renewal. [Times Picayune, 5/8/14]
? CRL: the average payday loan customer spends two-thirds of the year in hock to the payday lender. [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 6/18/14]
? 22 percent of monthly borrowers, “largely people whose income is from social security”, remained in debt for an entire year. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/26/14]
? Only 15 percent of borrowers were able to repay their initial loans without borrowing again within two weeks. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/26/14]
? CFPB: Three quarters of loan fees came from borrowers who had more than 10 payday loans in a 12-month period. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/11/13]
Payday lending is a huge problem. A huge industry has grown with a business model of trapping low-wage people in a debt trap and draining everything they can from them. Yes, low-income workers need some place to turn in a financial crisis. But setting financial predators loose on them is not the way.
Doing Something About It
In various parts of the country, activists are taking the fight directly to the payday lenders, as shown in this video:
On August 1, one-hundred activists from twenty-five states took action on Speedy Loan, a payday lender in Milwaukee, to call on Speedy Loan Corp. owner and president Kevin Dabney to stop trapping families in 500 percent interest debt-trap loans. Monday’s action came midway through the 90-day public comment period on a proposal to issue the first-ever national rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate the payday and car title lending industry.
Join the fight! Go to StopPaydayPredators.org and make a comment to the CFPB.
The CFPB is proposing new rules to crack down and protect Americans from these scammers. The bureau has opened up a public comment period.
To dismantle the debt trap, payday lenders should only loan to borrowers who can afford to repay their debt.
You can make a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule. From the website:
We can rein in the worst payday lending abuses with a proposed rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Payday lenders are fighting to keep their unfair and abusive practices going. It’s up to us to make sure the CFPB hears loud and clear that we need to stop the debt trap once and for all.
A single unaffordable payday loan is one loan too many. The proposed rule gives a “free pass” to payday lenders to make six bad loans, allowing lenders to sink people into a dangerous debt trap before the rule kicks in. The CFPB was right to base their proposal on the standard that borrowers should be able to repay their loan, but that standard must be on every loan, from the first loan. The CFPB should also enact protections to prevent lenders from stringing people along by ensuring a 60 day break between loans and limiting ‘short term’ loans to 90 total days of indebtedness per year.
The payday lending industry is spending millions on a disinformation campaign that includes flooding the CFPB with comments from customers coached to write industry-friendly statements. We need to push back against the industry. Please leave a comment now for the CFPB in support of a strong rule.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for Americas Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progressive Breakfast.