NC Loan Biz Tries Military Changes to Win Support

April 29, 2013
Associated Press (NY)  

In North Carolina, companies that issue installment loans are lobbying for the opportunity to charge many of their customers more. The state's consumer-finance industry has not seen a significant change in interest rate or borrowing amount limits in 30 years. A 2011 bill died in the Senate, opposed by those who worried that it would hurt young service members seeking credit. Legislation introduced this year would lower the maximum rates companies could charge on small-denomination loans but would hike interest on common-type loans and permit the charging of late fees. Company-level commanders would have to be notified before a loan is issued to one of their lower-ranked soldiers, airmen, or Marines. A loan to a service member could be canceled within 30 days, and minimum loan terms for all borrowers would be expanded to one year. Consumer advocates say too many customers are caught in a debt cycle by refinancing and that needless insurance products can add thousands of dollars in additional interest. "The military was concerned enough that these kinds of loans could cause real problems for their enlisted personnel that they got special protections put in," said Chris Kukla of the Center for Responsible Lending. "It then illustrates that this is a financial product with significant peril."
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