How One State Succeeded in Restricting Payday Loans

August 6, 2013
ProPublica 
payday lending news

Washington state legislators in 2009 passed a law blocking borrowers from taking out more than eight payday loans in a single year, and that statute has served as a model for Delaware and other states. Consumer advocates lent their support in Washington after attempts to ban high-cost loans outright failed. Although the measure still allowed payday lenders to charge high annual rates, it prevented what many critics claim is the worst aspect of the business: trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt with multiple loans. Data from 2009, a year before the law took effect, shows that two-thirds of payday borrowers took out eight or fewer loans that year, meaning that the law did not affect most consumers. However, those who take out more loans are what generates profits for the industry; and the data also revealed that the greatest volume of payday loans in 2009 went to borrowers who took out nine or more advances during those 12 months. Two years later, state regulators reported that only about 24 percent of borrowers had taken out the maximum eight loans over a 12-month period; and between 2009 and 2011, the total number of payday loans declined significantly. Washington borrowers took out more than 3.2 million payday loans in 2009, but just 856,000 in 2011. The number of payday loan stores in the state also fell by 42 percent.
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