New Report: Payday Loans are gateway to long-term debt

31 03 2011

New CRL Research: Average “short term” loan keeps borrowers in debt for 212 days per year

Center for Responsible Lending
March 31, 2011

Although payday loans are marketed as quick solutions to occasional financial shortfalls, new research from the Center for Responsible Lending shows that these small dollar loans are far from short-term.  Payday Loans, Inc., the latest in a series of CRL payday lending research reports, found that payday loan borrowers are indebted for more than half of the year on average, even though each individual payday loan typically must be repaid within two weeks.

CRL’s research also shows that people who continue to take out payday loans over a two-year period tend to increase the frequency and extent of their debt. Among these borrowers, a significant share (44 percent), ultimately have trouble paying their loan and experience a default. The default results in borrows paying more fees from both the payday lender and their bank.

Federal banking regulators have voiced their concerns about long-term payday loan usage. For example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has stated that it is inappropriate to keep payday borrowers indebted for more than 90 days in any 12 month period. Yet CRL determined that the average borrower with a payday loan owed 212 days in their first year of payday loan use, and an average of 372 days over two years.

“This new report finds even more disturbing lending patterns than our earlier reports”, said Uriah King, a senior vice-president with CRL. “Not only is the actual length of payday borrowing longer, the amount and frequency grows as well. The first payday loan becomes the gateway to long-term debt and robs working families of funds available to cover everyday living expenses.” 

CRL tracked transactions over 24 months for 11,000 borrowers in Oklahoma who took out their first payday loans in March, June or September of 2006. Oklahoma is one of the few states where a loan database makes this kind of analysis possible. CRL then compared these findings with available information from regulator data and borrower interviews in other states.   

According to Christopher Peterson, a University of Utah law professor and nationally-recognized consumer law expert, “The Center for Responsible Lending’s latest research on multi-year, first-use payday loan borrowers provides conclusive evidence that payday loans are not short-term debts. Rather, their data shows payday loans evolve into a spiral of long-term, recurrent, and escalating debt patterns.”  

Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey and profiled in Almighty Debt, a recent CNN documentary, also commented on the new research findings: “Reputable businesses build their loyal clientele by offering value-priced products and services. Customers choose to return to these businesses. But payday lenders build their repeat business by trapping borrowers into a cycle of crippling debt with triple digit interest rates and fees. Lenders should be completely satisfied with a 36 percent interest cap.”

To address the problem of long-term payday debt, CLR recommends that states end special exemptions that allow payday loans to be offered at triple-digit rates by restoring traditional interest rate caps at or around 36 percent annual interest. A 36 percent annual interest rate cap has proven effective in stopping predatory payday lending across seventeen states and the District of Columbia. Active duty service members and their families are also protected from high-cost payday loans with a 36 percent annual cap.

In addition, CRL notes that both states and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the federal level can take other steps such as limiting the amount of time a borrower can remain indebted in high-cost payday loans; and requiring sustainable terms and meaningful underwriting of small loans generally. 

Further information on the report is available at: http://www.responsiblelending.org/payday-lending/research-analysis/payday-loans-inc.html.

For more information: Kathleen Day at (202) 349-1871 or kathleen.day@responsiblelending.org; Ginna Green at (510) 379-5513 or ginna.green@responsiblelending.org; or Charlene Crowell at (919) 313-8523 or charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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About the Center for Responsible Lending

The Center for Responsible Lending is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. CRL is affiliated with Self-Help, one of the nation’s largest community development financial institutions.

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Put Interest Cap on Payday Loans – Editorial

5 01 2011

Editorial published in Lexington Herald-Leader (1/4/11)

The payday loan industry reported spending almost $120,000 in the first eight months of 2010 lobbying Kentucky’s legislature.

Advocates for the payday loan industry’s prey, er, customers, don’t have that kind of money to get out their message.

But they do have some compelling facts, if only lawmakers can turn down the volume of special-interest money long enough to listen.

The Consumers’ Advisory Council, a body created by the legislature to advise it, is urging lawmakers who convene today to impose a 36 percent interest rate cap on payday lenders.

The council, which held three public hearings last fall, listened to payday lenders, as well. One of the industry’s most persuasive arguments is that the exorbitant fees charged by banks on overdrafts and for services are unregulated and that payday loans are a better deal than paying the bank fees.

But, after considering the industry’s case, the consumers’ council decided it was in Kentucky’s best interest to join 15 other states that have enacted a 36 percent cap on payday loans, the same cap that Congress imposed for the protection of military service members.

Back in 1998, when the General Assembly first regulated payday lenders, one of the main worries was that consumers were being “rolled over” from one high interest loan to the next and incurring insurmountable debt that would lead to bankruptcy.

To address this concern, the legislature limited customers to no more than two loans totaling $500 in a 14-day period.

But the two-loan limit isn’t working, based on information from an electronic database of payday lenders authorized by the legislature last year.

“The data show that the average consumer is trapped in a debt cycle,” wrote Todd E. Leatherman, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection, in a letter on behalf of the advisory council to House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams.

“According to the data, 83 percent of payday loans went to consumers who took out five or more loans at an APR of 391 percent during a five-month period. On a typical loan of $255, this amounts to $90 in fees per month. What is offered to a consumer as a short-term, stopgap loan, often becomes an insurmountable financial burden due to the high interest rate of this product,” Leatherman wrote.

A study released in October by economists at Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania found payday borrowers are twice as likely to declare bankruptcy as other similarly situated consumers.

Short of imposing a 36 percent cap, the council recommends other protections, such as additional consumer disclosure, allowing extended payment plans and imposing a cooling off period between loans.

Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/01/04/1586537/put-interest-cap-on-payday-loans.html#ixzz1A8Y4je9w





KY Voices for Springing the Debt Trap

15 12 2010

Ky. voices: Spring payday loan debt trap
Lexington Herald-Leader
December 15, 2010

 
By Anne Marie Regan and Lisa Gabbard

Kentucky’s new payday lending database is proving that too many consumers are caught in an endless cycle of debt and that a 36 percent rate cap is long overdue. The Herald-Leader’s recent editorial got it right that payday loans create “a perpetual debt machine that grabs borrowers and sucks them in.”

What’s new: Information from the database supports the push for a common sense 36 percent cap. Lawmakers told consumers and their advocates, in 2009 and again in 2010, to “wait and see how the database works.” All the while, payday lenders have continued making loans at up to 400 percent annual interest to consumers desperate for cash to make ends meet.

Kentucky’s database went live in April and has been quietly gathering hard data and adding up the millions of dollars borrowed and fees paid at the 600-plus payday lending storefronts across the state. What the new database confirms is a disturbing and persistent debt trap for consumers that parallels patterns of long-term borrowing in other states. These patterns show that repeat borrowing is the rule, rather than the exception for the payday industry.

The average borrower in Kentucky has taken out 8.6 transactions since January, and 83 percent of payday loan revenues have been generated by borrowers with five or more transactions. Borrowers typically cannot repay in 14 days and end up taking out loan after loan. As a result, the typical borrower will pay $439.50 in fees alone on the average loan amount of $310. The database also confirms how much Kentucky consumers are paying in fees (more than $80 million this year so far), with much of it leaving our local economies and going to out-of- state companies.

While the database is a useful tool for regulators and a first step in enforcing existing state law, it does nothing to help consumers escape the debt trap or lower the 400 percent interest rates. Other states have taken action to do this, and Kentucky should, too. Seventeen other states (most recently Montana) have capped interest at around 36 percent or never legalized payday lending. In 2006, the Department of Defense pushed Congress to pass a law limiting annual interest on payday loans made to military families to 36 percent.

One recent bright spot in this long debate is the Attorney General’s Consumer Advisory Council. It held a series of public hearings this fall and gathered comment on payday loans. What it heard from consumers and their advocates was clear: Waiting for a 36 percent cap on payday loans is costing consumers, their families, local economies and Kentucky too much.

After deliberating, the Council has recommended that the 2011 General Assembly impose a 36 percent interest rate cap on payday lending.

Even with Kentucky’s new database, state law is not protecting consumers from exploitative, high-interest (400 percent APR) loans and the cycle of debt. Now that the database is capturing data about the harmful effects of payday loans, it’s up to the legislature to use this information to spring consumers from this debt trap. The only proven solution is to cap these loans at 36 percent.

Anne Marie Regan and Lisa Gabbard are co-chairs of the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending.

Click here to read the Consumers’ Advisory Council’s Letter to House and Senate Leadership recommending a 36% APR to help consumers.CAC Letter_Sen_Williams_Rep_Stumbo_12-09-10

See the Herald-Leader online version: http://www.kentucky.com/2010/12/15/1567162/ky-voices-spring-payday-loan-debt.html#more#ixzz18BzzwdqX





State’s Consumers’ Avisory Council Votes to Approve 36% Payday Lending Cap

12 12 2010

Consumers’ Advisory Council Calls on Lawmakers for 36% Cap on Payday Loans

Capping interest rates at 36% in best interest of Kentucky.

The Consumers’ Advisory Council (CAC) voted Dec. 9th to officially recommend legislation capping interest rates on payday loans at 36% APR. In a letter to House and Senate leaders, the Council concluded that a rate cap is “in the best interest of Kentucky.” The Council’s recommendations are expected to boost consumer groups’ and lawmakers’ continued push for a 36% cap in the 2011 General Assembly.

“We applaud the Council’s work and for recognizing the harm of a loan product that carries 400% interest rates – and the urgent need to protect consumers,” said CLOUT Board Member, Jimmy Mills.  “There is broad statewide support for lowering abusive 400% rates in favor of a common sense 36% cap for payday loans, just like Congress did for the military and 17 other states have done,” said Anne Marie Regan, senior staff attorney for Kentucky Equal Justice Center and co-chair of the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending (KCRL).

At a series of three public hearings called for by CLOUT (Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together) in Newport, Lexington, and Louisville, Council members heard personal accounts of consumers being caught in payday lending’s cycle of debt.  Consumer advocates, using data from the state’s new payday loan database, testified that both the numbers and stories show that the typical payday loan results in long term debt, not a quick financial fix.

“Data from the state’s database shows that the average borrower in Kentucky has already taken out 8.6 loans this year, translating into more than $80 million in fees alone” said Pendleton County resident Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Director of Special Projects at Kentucky Youth Advocates.  “These fees represent a loss of valuable financial resources to Kentucky families and communities, with the vast majority of the money going to out of state payday lenders.” 

The new Kentucky data also showed that at least 83% of payday revenue has been generated by borrowers with five or more transactions this year. In contrast, just 2% of payday revenue is generated by customers who only used one loan.

The Council’s letter also noted additional measures, such as, a cooling off period between loans, extended payment plans, and enhanced consumer disclosure. However, at the same time the Council recognized other states’ experience showing these same measures “appear to be ineffective” to address consumers’ needs once caught in the cycle of debt created by payday loan’s high interest rates.

In other states where 400% interest payday loans are is still allowed, repayment plans and cooling off periods fail to lower the costs of loans or change patterns of repeat borrowing.

KCRL with some 65 other organizations and supporting legislators will seek a 36 percent cap in the 2011 General Assembly. 

 “Payday loans are not an answer to the financial emergencies that are hitting Kentucky families. When families get sucked into the debt trap and are forced to pay excessive fees every two weeks it directly affects their ability to meet their monthly obligations such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and essential needs of their family,” said Penny Young, Executive Director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition. “These loans are predatory and take advantage of our most vulnerable populations. It’s time for our legislators to take action and follow the consumer advisory council’s recommendation for a 36% cap.”





KCRL Guest Op-Ed, Courier-Journal

13 02 2010

Op-Ed | The debt trap of payday loans

By Amy Shir • Special to The Courier-Journal • January 31, 2010

Karen Young from Lawrenceburg borrowed less than $200 from a payday lender to cover her musician husband’s transportation expenses. She repaid it in two weeks but it didn’t stop there. She still needed cash. She wrote a new check to take out a new loan. She got caught in a cycle. The cycle went on for 18 months. Payday loans didn’t help Karen hold off a crisis. They added to her debts. In the end, Karen refinanced her home to pay off what she owed. Along the way, she paid almost 10 times the original payday loan in fees. Karen’s story is common. Loans are taken out back to back, over and over.

The result is a “debt trap.” This isn’t an aberration. It is the intentional business model on which the payday loan industry flourishes. “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,” said Dan Feehan, CEO of Cash America, a major payday lender. The numbers nationally: $25 billion of $29 billion earned by the payday loan industry annually comes from loans taken out back to back. Kentuckians paid an estimated $158 million in fees in 2008. Kentucky payday loan borrowers use an average of nine loans per year and thereby pay an estimated $822 on a $350 loan — a whopping $472 in fees!

Solution

The Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending was formed to help Kentuckians like Karen. Our 64 member groups include faith-based and senior citizens groups, domestic violence programs helping women re-establish economic stability, youth advocates and more. The solution we propose is the same as Congress already enacted for military families. Call the fees what they are — interest on a loan — and cap the annual interest rate at 36 percent. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia cap payday loan rates — usually at 36 percent APR or less — or never allowed payday lending. (Ohio recently capped rates at 28 percent. West Virginia never allowed payday loans at all.) There’s no reason that Kentucky families shouldn’t have the same protection. This year they might get it. Gov. Steve Beshear has endorsed the rate cap and Rep. Jim Glenn, D- Owensboro, has agreed to sponsor a bill.

Faith-based and senior groups Payday Lending

Why do our members care? The Bible is full of verses that prohibit taking advantage of the poor, and it specifically forbids usury (Exodus 22: 25). Those teachings matter to our faith-based members. When it comes to seniors, AARP reports that payday lenders increasingly target the elderly and people with disabilities. (The monthly cycle of Social Security and SSI disability checks fits the “business model” of repeat loans.)

A study commissioned by The Wall Street Journal found that payday loan stores cluster around government-subsidized housing for seniors and people with disabilities. Our coalition soon will publish a study with maps showing where the stores are located, with ounty data on the burden of debt.

Obstacles

Payday lenders lobbied vigorously in 1998 for the Kentucky law that lets them operate here — and exempts them from interest rate imits of other lenders. We expect they will oppose the 36 percent cap. They may also point to last year’s bill to establish a “database” of payday loans as a reason not to do more.

We disagree. The database is simply a tool to enforce the current limits of two loans totaling $500 at a time. It will not cut the costs of loans. Studies from other states show it will not break the cycle of debt.

Now is the time

Thousands of Kentuckians are losing jobs, filing for bankruptcy or facing foreclosure on their homes. One toxic product shows up amidst much of this suffering: payday loans. The General Assembly can make a real difference by enacting a proven solution. We encourage all Kentuckians to call your state legislators today at 1-800-372-7181. Ask them to enact the 36 percent rate cap on payday loans.

Amy Shir is chairwoman of the Kentucky
Coalition for Responsible Lending. Learn more on the Web

www.facebook.com/kyresponsiblelending.

[House Bill 381 is awaiting a hearing in the House Banking and Insurance Committee.]





KCRL Supports House Bill 381-A Proven Solution

9 02 2010

Payday Lending Bill Introduced in 2010 General Assembly

Rep. Darryl Owens joins with Co-sponsors and KCRL to introduce House Bill 381 seeking 36 percent interest cap on payday loans.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending (KCRL) joined with Rep. Darryl Owens (D – 43) and his Co-sponsors to introduce  House Bill 381. The bill seeks to protect consumers from being snared in a spiraling debt trap by enacting a new 36 percent interest rate cap on payday loans.

Marketed as short-term relief in a cash crunch, payday loans in Kentucky carry annual interest rates of 400 percent and regularly catch working people – or those with a steady source of income such as Social Security or a disability check – in a long-term debt trap. Over 40 % of borrowers believe payday loan interest rates are less than 30% APR, when in fact rates in Kentucky are at least 391% APR—and often exceed 400%. Nationwide, 9 out of 10 payday loans are made to repeat borrowers who take out nine or more payday loans in a year—a “cycle of debt”

“We believe this is a needed step to protect Kentucky consumers from a predatory product that costs hard working families approximately $150 million a year,” said Kip Bowmar, Executive Director of Community Action Kentucky and KCRL member organization. “We salute Rep. Owens and the 19 co-sponsors on this important legislation,” added Bowmar.

 

According to KCRL Chair Amy Shir,“We are in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression and we don’t want see working Kentucky families’ hard earned money stripped away by a predatory financial product.” KCRL consists of 64 organizations statewide representing hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. “And, during tough budget times for the state, this bill doesn’t cost a thing and it protects Kentucky consumers. This is a win-win bill,” said Shir.

Support House Bill 381





Payday Lending Campaign Needs You – Take Action

28 01 2010

2010 General Assembly Pushed to Cap Payday Loans at 36%

KY Consumers Can’t Afford to Wait for Real Protections.  Take Action – Make a Difference!

Payday loans cost Kentucky families too much. The Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending supports a cap on payday loan interest rates at 36 percent APR—just like Congress passed to protect our military families.

State Capitol - Frankfort, KY

State Capitol - Frankfort

You can help protect Kentucky families from the payday loan debt trap by calling your state lawmaker today.

 Ask your legislators to:

  • support the 36% payday loan rate cap
  • become a co-sponsor of House Bill 381
  • ask Rep. Jeff Greer to give House Bill 381 a fair hearing in the Banking & Insurance Committee

Call – Senators and Representatives toll-free on the Legislative Message Line:

1-800-372-7181 • TTY Messages 1-800-896-0305 • En Español 1-877-287-3134

LRC Message Center is open:  Monday – Thursday (7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.) & Friday 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Find your legislators online: www.lrc.ky.gov Send email to legislators http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/email.htm

More background:

The Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending now includes over 60 Kentucky organizations.  Click here to see facts sheets and personal stories on our 2010 General Assembly resources page. Some of the highlights:

Over 40 % of borrowers believe payday loan interest rates are less than 30% APR, when in fact rates in Kentucky are at least 391% APR—and often exceed 400%

Nationwide, 9 out of 10 payday loans are made to repeat borrowers who take out nine or more payday loans in a year—a “cycle of debt”

There are alternatives:  traditional small loans—at 36% or less—from consumer finance companies increased by nearly 40 percent after the rate cap was enacted in North Carolina.

Learn more about payday loans and find us on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/kyresponsiblelending