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Trump Administration Hands Major Victory to Payday Lenders

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Thursday, February 7, 2019   

LANSING, Mich. – The federal government is proposing to change rules that protect consumers from those short term payday loan companies often referred to as predatory lenders.

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection had already put the Obama-era Payday Lending Rule on hold, but on Wednesday, the agency said it wants to remove the requirement that lenders determine whether borrowers have the ability to pay the loan back.

Christine Hines, legislative director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, says she thinks the administration has caved to industry pressure.

"Payday lenders are some of the worst actors in the financial industry, and it looks like the CFPB has given them a lifeline, as opposed to vulnerable consumers," she states.

Michigan does have some state-level rules that, for example, limit the interest rate on a two-week, $100 loan to 390 percent.

But 37 other states have limited it to 36 percent, or have banned these high cost installment loans altogether.

The Trump administration defends the change, saying it will allow more people access to credit.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau studies done under the last administration found that four out of five payday loan customers can't pay off their loans and end up renewing them and paying more fees.

And one in five people who get a car title loans ends up handing over the vehicle.

Hines says she thinks the rule change would lead to exploitation of vulnerable low-income communities.

"It would be bad for consumers, and good for an industry that has a longstanding history of trapping vulnerable borrowers in a cycle of debt," she states.

The rule-change proposal will be published in the Federal Register by Monday, which kicks off a 90 day public comment period on the federal website regulations.gov.


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