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Ohio Groups Speak Out Against Payday Lending Loopholes

In Ohio, payday lenders can charge nearly 600 percent interest. (A McLin/Flickr)
In Ohio, payday lenders can charge nearly 600 percent interest. (A McLin/Flickr)
October 4, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nearly 100 groups in Ohio are banding together and speaking out against what they say are loopholes in proposed payday lending regulations. The organizations, which advocate for low-income families and other vulnerable Ohioans, sent a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday calling for the rules to be strengthened.

Marcus Roth, the director of communications and development the with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said these groups see firsthand the destruction predatory lending inflicts.

"A lot of people that come to food banks, for example, are driven to seek assistance and get help from food banks because they don't have enough money left over to afford food after paying these outrageous fees from payday lenders," he explained.

In Ohio, payday lenders can charge nearly 600 percent interest. Roth said weaknesses in the draft rules could allow borrowers to skirt the requirement for lenders to assess a borrower's ability to repay. He also noted the 30-day waiting period between loans is not sufficient to prevent a cycle of borrowing and refinancing. The draft rules are open for public comment through Friday, October 7.

According to data from the Center for Responsible Lending, payday lenders collected about a half million dollars from Ohioans in 2015, more than double the fees collected in 2008 when Ohio voters approved a law regulating the industry. Roth believes that's why water-tight federal regulations are needed.

"Since we've seen how they're able to really squirm around the regulations here in Ohio we know that if the CFPB doesn't do a really good job with these rules then they're likely not going to be real effective in Ohio," he said.

The industry contends it provides a valuable service to consumers unable to get credit or who need financial help in an emergency. And opponents argue the proposed rules could put some lenders out of business.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH