Payday lenders have been living with the pressure of a very real threat to their industry for some time now. The threat is the new regulations that the CFPB has cooked up for the industry. In the mainstream media and in some court hearings, the payday lenders have taken quite a beating from the CFPB so far. It looks, however, like the lenders have finally had it, and they have started to take action to push back against the CFPB and its proposed payday lending industry regulations.
Jennifer Sons is from Chino Valley Arizona and she is also a payday loan customer. She wrote a note that got delivered to D.C. via a Cincinnati group called Axcess Financial. Part of that note read, “These loans are life savers!! Do not change anything please!”
Another payday loan customer, Kathy Walsh of Shellsburg, Iowa wrote, “If I did not have the advantage of a payday loan, I wouldn’t be able to pay for things like my medicine when I run out, especially since I get paid twice a month!”
There have been so many personal notes and comments posted online that the federal government’s website, Regulations.gov, has them all listed under a section of the site called “What’s trending.” At last count, there were more than 22,500 comments and a minimum of 830 handwritten notes that were sent through via Axcess. This group runs the Check ‘n Go and Allied Cash Advance Locations. An additional 800 comments were posted by customers of Advance Financial in Nashville. Some of these notes had straight-to-the-point text, like “I have bills to pay,” and “Leave me alone!”
The correspondence was recently reviewed and it was determined that the letters were from consumers who were concerned about their access to lines of credit going away. Those types of letters and comments far outweighed the comments from critics of the payday loan industry. The critics, mostly consumer watchdog/advocate groups, believe that the lenders are leading consumers down the wrong path and they say that credit for working class people will not go away. They claim that new financial products will offer people the chance to borrow money with more affordable fees.
Providers in the payday lending industry, however, say that the rule will force legitimate lenders to close down their companies. They also say that the rule will prevent lower income consumers from having access to emergency cash and lines of credit. In this battle the lenders have found that the borrowers are their most powerful weapon.
Cullen Earnest is the VP of public policy for Advance Financial. He said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg!” The last day that the CFPB will accept public comments on the rule is October 7th. Earnest warns that there will be many more consumer letters and comments before that day arrives.
As things now stand in most states, payday lending companies can make shorter term, smaller dollar loans to just about any person who has a job. If borrowers are unable to pay back their loans on time, they can roll the loan over into a new one. Opponents of payday lending say that this process creates cycles of debt for poor people. They hope that the new rules will put an end to the creation of these cycles. It is important to know, however, that most people who take out payday loans do so with understanding of the fees and the loan terms. They also usually pay back their loans on time. Those who roll loans over often do so willingly, and fully understanding that it will take them additional time to pay the loans back. This is no different than if someone chooses to skip a credit card payment; except that the CFPB would rather target the payday lending industry with stiff regulations than it would larger providers of financial services, like big banks and credit card companies.