State Needs More Regulation of Payday Loans

August 3, 2013
Iowa City Press-Citizen  
payday lending news

More cities in Iowa are using zoning authority to restrict payday loan businesses within their borders, but such efforts have only limited effect on the industry without statewide legislation. Iowa City's ordinance, which confines delayed-deposit service businesses to community commercial zones, effectively stopped new payday loan businesses from opening; but it does not affect the businesses that are already up and running. An editorial in the Iowa City Press-Citizen calls for the state legislature to address abuses within the payday loan industry. Although industry lobbyists say the product helps those in temporary need of cash, Iowa Division of Banking statistics show that about half of all payday borrowers in Iowa take out 12 loans a year. According to the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), the average U.S. payday loan borrower takes out 8.7 payday loans per year. CRL also reports that about 60 percent of payday loans go to people with more than 12 transactions per year. Such statistics imply that the product does not help people in emergencies but can get them stuck in a cycle of debt. Fees described as 15 percent can amount to a 390 percent annual percentage rate. Industry defenders say higher interest rates only occur if a borrower rolls a loan over more than two dozen times in a year, but the statistics suggest that this is the norm for many payday borrowers. The editorial also calls for "workable alternatives to payday loans" that include credit union loans, emergency-assistance programs, and consumer credit counseling.
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