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 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





Deferred Deposits, Delayed Justice?

24 11 2009

2010 General Assembly Facing Tough Issues

From the KY Gazette  (November 2009)

 by Laura Cullen Glasscock at glasscock@kentuckygazette.com

Deferred Deposits [ 2010 General Assembly]

The provisions of the check-cashing and deferred deposit statutes are currently contained in Subtitle 9 of KRS Chapter 286 that authorizes licensed deferred deposit businesses to charge a service fee not to exceed $15 per $100 borrowed. The service fee is for a period of 14 days. Borrowers may obtain one loan not to exceed $500 at any one time, and rollovers are prohibited. The deferred deposit transaction statutes were amended in 2009, effective July 1, 2010, by House Bill 444 to expand regulation of the industry. The legislation also provides for a 10-year moratorium on licensure of new businesses after July 1, 2009. A review by staff of the Kentucky Office of Financial Institutions annual reports found the number of licensed payday locations in Kentucky increased from 214 in 1998 to 754 currently.

On its face, a $15 fee per $100 borrowed appears to be interest in the amount of 15 percent. However, because of the 14-day loan term, a new loan can be obtained 26 times per year, which results in an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. Reportedly, most borrowers are unable to repay the loan with their next paycheck. As a result, borrowers often take out a new loan before their next paycheck, resulting in an additional fee. Several sources report that 87 percent of new loans are opened within two weeks or before the borrower’s next payday, indicating they are unable to repay the original or previous loan and sustain the cost of living expenses without taking out a new loan. This common practice is referred to as “rollover” Making multiple rollovers, referred to as “churning,” results in an annual percentage rate of 391 percent in Kentucky. Nationwide, churning accounts for 76 percent of the deferred deposit total loan volume.

There are alternative methods of providing small, short-term loans up to $1,000. In an effort to reach the unbanked population, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is currently conducting a two-year pilot program for banks to provide small loans up to $1,000 to borrowers, even if they have poor credit. Thirty-one banks in 15 states are enrolled in the project, including two banks in Kentucky, Citizens Union Bank in Shelbyville and Kentucky Bank in Paris.





Editorial – Gov. Beshear should stick to interest cap pledge

6 10 2009
  
Beshear should stick to interest cap pledge

Editorial from the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Gov. Steve Beshear isn’t delaying his efforts at securing a second term in 2011.

Since announcing his running mate in July, Beshear has begun raising funds for his run for re-election. Those efforts included a fundraiser last week at the Tennessee home of the head of a national payday lending company.

Beshear’s relationship with the payday lending industry stretches back for years, but that familiarity and his desire for a second term shouldn’t stand in the way of further efforts to restrict payday lending in Kentucky.

Kentucky isn’t the first or the only state to look at addressing the exorbitant costs and predatory practices of many in the payday lending industry.

These short-term loans, which typically must be repaid within two weeks, are marketed as a bridge to payday, but instead can drag consumers into a cycle of debt. Loans are capped at $500, and the interest rate when annualized can be as high as 390 percent.

The payday lending industry markets the loans as a short-term solution to minor financial challenges, but instead the loans are often “flipped.” This practice has consumers taking out new payday loans to repay old, and they can quickly find themselves spiraling into deeper debt.

Beshear, as a lawyer in private practice, was a lobbyist for the payday lending industry in the 1990s. That connection is likely to raise some eyebrows given the fundraiser last week at the home of Garry McNabb, the chief executive officer of Cash Express, a payday lending outfit that has more than 100 outlets in Kentucky.

McNabb and the Beshear administration both downplayed the idea that the fundraiser was an attempt to gain access to the governor’s office.

“I can assure you there has not been the first hint that the fundraiser being tied to any kind of business,” McNabb told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Chad Aull, the political director for the Beshear re-election campaign, also dismissed any impropriety, and said Beshear supports capping annualized interest rates for payday loans at 36 percent.

That cap is a goal of consumer advocates including the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending, but one that was unrealized in legislative changes made this year. House Bill 444, a stripped down version of tighter restrictions offered in 2008, was passed and created a statewide database to help ensure lenders and consumers were abiding by limits on multiple loans.

With House Bill 444’s passage, Beshear said he would continue to work with the legislature to impose the 36 percent cap, and hopefully this fundraiser isn’t an indication he has other intentions. His actions once a legislative proposal is offered next year should bear out the assertions of McNabb and Aull.

“In the future, I believe we must take the next step of imposing caps on these lenders to afford consumers even stronger protections,” Beshear said in a statement about House Bill 444 in March.

More optimistically, Beshear’s connections to the payday lending industry could offer an advantage to Kentucky consumers. The governor should use his influence with his industry connections to ensure their acceptance of the cap rather than letting their influence sway him.

Copyright © 2009 – Messenger Inquirer