Consumer advocates took their campaign against car title lending to Great
Bridge, Va., on Aug. 15, waving placards warning "Predators at Work" and "Don't
Drown in Debt." The 10 protesters, shouting "Go home TitleMax," brought
attention to a one-story outlet that opened earlier this month. The Virginia
Poverty Law Center convened the demonstration out of concern that TitleMax and
other title firms are opening stores close to the state line to attract
borrowers living outside of Virginia, said Dana Wiggins, a spokesperson for the
Richmond-based group. The state's General Assembly restricted the rate and terms
of title loans in 2010, but earlier this year sanctioned them to service
borrowers whose vehicles are registered in nearby states. After speaking with
demonstrators at this week's protest, Chesapeake City Councilor C.E. Hayes Jr.
said he would offer a proposal requiring title lenders to obtain conditional-use
permits from the city before setting up shop. Title lenders sell high-interest
loans to struggling individuals who use their personal vehicles as collateral.
If borrowers neglect to repay the loans, they risk losing their transportation.
The Virginia Poverty Law Center and other consumer advocacy organizations have
long argued that borrowers are frequently snared by the interest payments on
these loans and that some lose vehicles they need for their jobs.