Shark Week 2015 - Stop Payday Loan Sharks!
The most dangerous sharks in America aren’t found in the sea. They’re the payday loan sharks lurking on neighborhood corners and on the internet and they offer small dollar loans that take a big bite out of family budgets with interest rates averaging roughly 300 percent.
Last year, ocean sharks killed 73 Americans, but payday loan sharks trapped 12 million people in an endless cycle of debt. Each day this #SharkWeek 2015, we exposed a different “species” of payday loan shark.
#Sharkweek 2015: Stop Payday Loan Shark Attacks!
Online payday loan sharks are a particularly vicious payday loan shark species that dwells in the murky waters of the internet. They prey on hard-working families with triple digit interest rates, high fees and threatening tactics, just like their storefront cousins. In fact, online payday loan sharks charge an average of 650% APR - even higher interest rates than storefront payday lenders. One in three online payday loans are structured to automatically renew, keeping families trapped in an endless cycle of debt.
Online payday lenders put their borrowers at risk for fraud and abuse. Almost one in three borrowers reported fraud in their accounts and nearly 30 percent of online payday shark attack survivors report being threatened by their lender or a debt collector. Once online payday lenders have access to borrowers bank accounts, it’s difficult to stop their attacks. The FTC and the CFPB have brought several cases against online payday lead generators for making unauthorized withdrawals from customers who never even agreed to borrow. In addition, many online lenders fail to register in all the states where they make loans in order to avoid state laws that protect consumers.
 “Fraud and Abuse Online: Harmful Practices in Internet Payday Lending.” Pew Charitable Trusts, October 2, 2014. [http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2014/10/fraud-and-abuse-online-harmful-practices-in-internet-payday-lending]
 “CFPB Sues Online Payday Lender for Cash-Grab Scam.” Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, September 17, 2014. [http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-sues-online-payday-lender-for-cash-grab-scam/]
Installment Loan Sharks: Bleeding You Dry One Bite At A Time
Installment loan sharks might look friendlier at first glance, but don’t be fooled. Like their traditional payday loan cousins, installment loans also trap borrowers in a cycle of debt with outrageous triple digit interest rates and high fees. Installment loans offer multiple payments instead of a single balloon payment. However, their eye-watering interest rates and fees mean they are the equivalent of a payday loan with multiple renewals built-in.
In fact, consumer installment payday loans began to appear when states tried to protect consumers by putting common sense limits on payday loans. For example, Advance America offers a 182-day minimum loan term with 297% APR which means that you would pay $1,586 in charges for a $1,500 loan. Borrowers end up paying more in interest and fees than they got from their loan. In 2011 in Illinois, borrowers paid $232.5 million in interest on $223.1 million in original loans.
Installment payday loan shark Advance America’s own employees admit they were instructed to restrict repayment options to keep borrowers trapped in the debt cycle. One employee said, “Time and again I’ve witnessed customers get caught-up in the so-called payday loan debt cycle, and it was my job to restrict customer repayment plan options and encourage the repetitive use of the payday loan product.” Another employee told of how Advance America used families’ social security and disability payments. “They would come in for a small loan and write a check to the company dated the 3rd of the month, when their government checks would arrive. All the Advance America employees were required to come in early on that day, so we could quickly cash their checks and wipe out their checking accounts.” From 2009-11, Advance America made about 8 loans to each customer meaning their borrowers spent months trapped in debt.
Shockingly, despite Advance America’s shady business model, CEO Patrick O’Shaughnessy was appointed to the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. This, despite practices like instructing employees to visit borrowers at their employers. “We would request that a person be pulled off the factory floor, not to collect, but to keep them on the hook. The key was embarrassment and intimidation.” READ MORE.
 “Payday Lending Abuses and Predatory Practices.” Center For Responsible Lending, September, 2013. [http://www.responsiblelending.org/state-of-lending/reports/10-Payday-Loans.pdf]
 “Meet Payday Lending Predator Jamie Fuller.” Americans for Payday Lending Reform. [http://preydaylenders.org/predator/fulmer/#more-465]
Storefront Payday Loan Sharks - Classic Attack: Costs an Arm and a Leg
Ocean-dwelling sharks attack only a handful of people every year in the U.S., but payday loan sharks attack more than 12 million hard working Americans each year. These vicious predators bleed more than $10 billion in fees out of our communities, mostly from people struggling just to get by. Unfortunately, payday loan sharks are all too common. There are more payday lending storefronts in America as McDonald’s and Starbucks…combined.
Payday loan shark attacks are devastating. What starts out as a short-term loan quickly becomes a devastating debt trap. With the entire loan due each payday, borrowers are left without enough money to survive and are forced to borrow again. Ninety-four percent of borrowers take out another payday loan within a month and more than half of borrowers are forced to renew their loans so many times they pay more in fees than the original loan. Payday after payday, these predators bleed their victims dry as bills pile up and borrowers default on credit cards, lose bank accounts and cost our economy millions. Payday borrowers are 92% more likely to default on their credit cards and nearly twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as households with similar incomes without payday loans.
These sharks target their attacks. Storefront payday lenders are much more likely to target People of Color and low-income workers who can least afford these loans. A study by National People’s Action found that payday lenders were three times more likely to be in African American and Latino neighborhoods than white communities.
Payday loan sharks like Speedy Cash CEO Donald Gayhardt have made millions profiting off of the financial distress of workers who are barely scraping by. Gayhardt said that low-wage workers are the payday industry’s “bread and butter” and his outrageous payday loans are a “bargain” for these low-wage workers. When the Military Lending Act outlawed lending to active military personnel for more than 36% interest, Gayhardt denied loans to military families all together. Gayhardt doesn’t stop at exploiting his customers, he exploits his employees too. While he was head of Dollar Financial, the company was forced to settle several class action lawsuit for failing to pay employees overtime or give them meal breaks. READ MORE.
 “Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products.” Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, April 24, 2013. [http://1.usa.gov/1aX9ley]
 “The Net Economic Impact of Payday Lending in the U.S.” Insight, March 2013. [http://www.insightcced.org/uploads/assets/Net%20Economic%20Impact%20of%20Payday%20Lending.pdf]
 Skiba, P.M. and Tobacman, J. “Do payday loans cause bankruptcy?” 2008.
Car Title Loan Sharks - Favorite Meal: Your Ride to Work and School
Car title loan sharks are voracious eaters. They gobble up $4 billion in fees from desperate borrowers every year, raking in two dollars in fees for every dollar loaned out! Like all other payday loan sharks, they thrive on high fees, triple-digit interest rates, huge balloon payment and deceptive tactics that trap their prey -- hard-working families -- in a devastating cycle of debt. But unlike other loan sharks, car title loan sharks make a meal out of your car.
In a car title loan, a borrower takes out a loan of around $1,000 in exchange for a lien on the title of their car. Thirty days later, the borrower is forced to pay the full balance of the loan plus fees and interest of over 300%. If they can’t pay, the borrower must roll over the loan and pay still more fees or risk losing their car. On average, borrowers roll over a car title loan eight times and end up spending half of their monthly income on loan payments. One in six borrowers lose their car on top of paying interest and the steep fees. Sixty percent of New Mexico borrowers lost their cars to repossession in one year alone.
Car title loan sharks can be found in 25 states in the United States and their feeding grounds are growing. Just look at Rod Aycox, the car title loan shark behind Select Management Resources. He’s made millions taking advantage of desperate borrowers and pressuring states to loosen the rules that protect consumers. His company has been sued for repossessing cars after charging customers illegally high interest rates and even causing the death of a borrower. As his customers struggle to save their cars, Aycox was driving a $128,000 Mercedes. READ MORE.
 “Car Title Lending.” Center for Responsible Lending, July 2013. [http://www.responsiblelending.org/state-of-lending/reports/7-Car-Title-Loans.pdf]
 “Auto Title Loans.” Pew Charitable Trusts, March 2015. [http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/Assets/2015/03/AutoTitleLoansReport.pdf?la=en]
 The State of Lending: Car-Title Loans.” Center for Responsible Lending, July 11, 2013. [http://www.responsiblelending.org/state-of-lending/car-title-loans/]
Facts Payday Lenders Don’t Want You to Know
- Each year, payday lenders make more than $10 billion in fees by trapping 12 million hardworking Americans in a cycle of debt.
- Payday lenders threaten, harass, and intimidate customers to take out new loans to pay back previous loans.
- Payday lenders use shady tactics to get around laws designed to protect consumers
The campaign to stop predatory lending highlights the harm these loan shark practices cause to working families and calls on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) to issue effective, broad, and strong rules on consumer lending to make the most abusive consumer lending practices extinct.