Report: Some Credit Unions Are Still Involved in Payday Lending

May 16, 2013
Consumerist 
payday lending news

Federal credit unions are subject to interest rate limits that make their products much more affordable than payday loans; however, a few have found underhanded ways to continue offering the high-cost products. In the past, some would skirt the usury cap by including additional fees not technically part of the annual percentage rate or by referring customers to payday lenders that use the credit union's name and brand to originate loans outside of the oversight of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). After the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) in 2010 exposed 58 credit unions that were engaging in these practices, 52 of them ended the behavior. A handful, though, have maintained an association with short-term, high-cost loans. In Florida, for example, five different credit unions all allow the same payday lender to use their names when offering short-term advances bearing an APR of 269 percent -- almost 10 times what credit unions could charge for a similar loan. "More needs to be done," asserts the NCLC. "NCUA has clear authority to stop predatory lending by credit unions. When manipulation of the APR by federal credit unions is the problem, NCUA should use its authority under the Federal Credit Union Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act to forbid FCUs from evading the FCUA 18 percent usury cap by charging fees that vastly outstrip the finance charge and that manipulate the APR."
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