Payday Lenders – Predator, Not Provider!
A woman I know named Marie is a mother and grandmother with a very large extended family that depends on her. She first walked through the door of a payday loan shop for a little extra money to help her children and grandchildren just last year. Not too long after, she found herself with five payday loans and no way to pay them off. Marie, like so many payday loan borrowers who are strapped for cash, signed a post-dated check she could not cover just so she could walk out the door with cash to help her family that day.
As mothers, we run up against all kinds of unexpected expenses when our children are young and even after they’ve moved out. As true providers, we want to help them any way we can, but turning to payday lenders is like turning to a predator. Heed this warning: whatever the expense, payday loans do not exist to help your needs. Lenders hawk payday loans as an easy way to get cash until your next check comes in. What lenders don’t emphasize is the outrageous fees you pay on that check. Fees that can total 400% APR or more.
Payday lenders say their loans are high-demand financial products that help families bridge unexpected financial gaps. In reality, 90 percent of payday lending business comes from people who get trapped in five or more loans per year. The average borrower takes out nine loans a year - the last eight because they couldn’t pay off the first one. What starts as one financial emergency becomes a series of them caused by a previous payday loan – or loans.
Payday lenders will do whatever it takes to draw new customers through the door, including holiday drawings, kids’ coloring contests, finders’ fees and targeted, aggressive marketing tactics. Lenders were so friendly and personable to Marie that she referred family and friends to them before she recognized the trap she had stepped into. Marie even got a finder’s fee of $25 for each person she referred. But $25 is nothing compared to the hundreds of dollars in interest that each new customer is estimated to pay.
The CEO of Cash America - one of the largest payday lenders in the country- actually said this at an industry conference: "The theory in the business is, 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."
So many people’s finances have been destroyed by these predators. In Missouri, we are seeing payday lenders target people who rely on government checks, like Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Unemployment Compensation and Veterans Benefits. Lenders want their cut!
By the time Marie sought help from GRO - Grass Roots Organizing to fix the mess she and her family faced, her credit was totally trashed, she was being threatened with arrest, and money was being automatically taken from her checking account. Just like many victims of domestic abuse, payday loan victims find it difficult to speak out.
As a member of GRO, I know that when those in power won’t take action to protect our neighbors and our communities from payday predators, the people must come together in large numbers and use our collective voice to demand an end to their shameful practices.
Enough is enough!
On Tuesday, April 27th, I will be joining GRO and hundreds of retirees, family farmers, and workers from across the Heartland to march in Kansas City’s financial district for a “Showdown” against large financial institutions, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, who invest over $1 billion in payday lending operations throughout the country.
GRO is an affiliate of National People’s Action, who is organizing a number of similar “Showdowns in America” against other big financial institutions, including Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo, to demand they break their stranglehold on our economy and political system.
The massive demonstrations will be the largest ever mobilized against the big banks, culminating in a massive Showdown in Washington, D.C., May 15-17. These demonstrations are being organized in partnership with PICO National Network, North Carolina United Power/IAF Southeast, Service Employees International Union, and the AFL-CIO.
If you are as fed up with what these big banks have done to our communities as I am, please go to www.showdowninamerica.org to learn how you can join a Showdown near you.