On Victory Drive, Soldiers Defeated by Debt

May 15, 2013
ProPublica 
payday lending news

The U.S. Defense Department has launched a review of the Military Lending Act, a law that has largely failed in its mission to protect enlisted borrowers from predatory interest rates. According to a 2012 report from the Consumer Federation of America, the number of payday lenders in and around Fort Hood, Texas, has not declined since the 2006 law took effect. The act's narrow focus on payday and auto title loans has left the door open for high-cost lenders to find alternate ways to reach the military market -- an especially sensitive population due to security clearances that can be compromised if service members become mired in debt. To avoid the 36 percent interest rate ceiling, they offer soldiers title loans with terms of longer than six months -- which clears them from Military Lending Act oversight -- or installment loans that also fall outside of the loan's parameters. To add insult to injury, multiple establishments of this nature can be found up and down Victory Drive leading to Fort Benning, Ga., and outside the gates of other military posts around the nation.
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