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Payday loan profiteers too cowardly to sign their own checks


The St. Louis Post Dispatch published the following editorial on January 12:


Let's say you're down on your luck, and you need a few bucks to get you through the month. Maybe your car broke down or your medical bills are too high.  Like many Americans, you have bad credit, and a traditional bank wouldn't lend you money on a bet. Besides, who goes to a bank for a measly $500?  You've driven by the flashy "Qwik Cash" or other payday loan signs. You've seen their advertisements with the nice people inside the stores willing to give you a loan to tide you over as long as you have a paycheck coming soon.

You're ready to take the plunge, except for this: It turns out your paycheck is from a less-than-savory source. And you don't really want the people there to have your personal information. A lot of folks are worried about identity theft these days. So you ask a simple question.

"Can I have a loan if I don't tell you the source of my funds or my name?"

The nice people at the payday loan office politely ask you not to let the door hit you on the way out. That's precisely what voters should tell the payday loan industry as it tries to pull a similar fast one on Missourians.

Last year, after yet another Missouri legislative session came and went without decreasing the interest rates that payday loan companies can charge their clients, a group of religious and civic organizations filed a state ballot initiative to bring sanity to the marketplace.

Missouri is one of the nation's most powerful magnets for payday loan companies. Its notoriously weak laws allow profiteers to prey on the working poor by charging effective annual interest rates of up 1,980 percent.

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