Community Groups Unite Against Bill Raising Small Loan Costs
Thursday, March 20, 2014
PHOENIX – Community groups, including AARP Arizona and the Arizona Community Action Association, are urging state senators to reject a bill allowing increased interest rates and fees on small consumer loans.
House Bill 2526 would allow loans up to $3,000 to carry an interest rate of 36 percent, and would permit an origination fee of $150, more than double the current limit.
At the same time, State Rep. Debbie McCune-Davis says the bill provides no assurance that borrowers would actually be able to repay those loans.
"Without that assurance, the loans that are made are potentially predatory, and the consequence is that it puts people in a cycle of debt, which gives them no opportunity to improve their lives, their credit or their future," she maintains.
The bill reportedly is being pushed by a single hedge fund-owned loan company and already has passed the Arizona House. It is currently being considered by the Senate.
State Sen. Steve Farley says voters rejected an industry-backed ballot measure six years ago that would have allowed payday loans exceeding 400 percent annual interest.
"Arizonans have spoken at the ballot box, both in electing people who are against payday lending and other types of predatory loans, and in banning predatory lending at the ballot in the initiative process, and they've spoken overwhelmingly time and time again," he says.
Cynthia Zwick, director of the Arizona Community Action Association, says lenders already are collecting additional fees from vulnerable borrowers that push loan costs well above the legal limit for interest rates.
"The bill is not about providing more loan choice to vulnerable Arizonans,” she says. “These loans are currently available, but at a maximum amount of 24 percent interest.
This bill is about higher-interest loans and higher costs for low-income borrowers versus higher profits for the lenders."
Other groups opposing the bill include the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity, the Morris Institute for Justice and Citizens for a Better Arizona.
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