Friday, October 7th is the final day for the public to comment on new proposed federal regulations on "payday loans." Payday loans are short-term loans that carry an average annual interest rate of nearly 400% and are often marketed to low-income communities. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a proposed "rule" in June that would require a payday lender to assess the borrower's ability to repay the loan and meet basic living expenses. The CFPB will incorporate the public comments - more than 500,000 messages to date - before issuing a final regulation.
"We need to be sure that vulnerable communities are not targets of predatory lending practices," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development coalition that submitted comments on the rule. "We are pleased with the work of the bureau in promoting responsible lending practices."
Critics claim payday lending can trap borrowers in a worsening debt cycle. Eighty percent of short-term loans are re-borrowed within a month and over fifty percent of all short-term loans are followed by at least 3 or more additional loans. Half of payday loan borrowers earn less than $25,000 per year. Predominantly African-American neighborhoods have three times as many payday lending stores as predominantly white neighborhoods.
In its public comments, Jubilee USA called on the CFPB to strengthen the rule. It called for strong definitions of what makes a loan "affordable," a clear process to assess a lender's default rate and for caps on the number of consecutive loans a consumer can borrow.
On October 14-16, more than 100 US faith communities affiliated with Jubilee USA will hold prayer services that focus on concerns around payday lending. The communities will promote alternatives to payday lending and advocate for state laws to cap payday interest rates.
"Responsible lending lifts communities up," stated Andrew Hanauer, Jubilee USA's Campaigns Director. "People of faith are concerned with lending practices that hurt the poor."
Read more about payday lending
Read more about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new rule on payday lending
Read Jubilee USA's comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on its proposed payday lending regulations
Read more about faith communities' actions on payday lending