Two Banks' Payday-Advance Lending Draws Scrutiny

August 14, 2013
Orlando Sentinel (FL)  
payday lending news

Regions Bank and Fifth Third Bank, two of Florida's largest banks, are drawing criticism from consumer groups after entering the payday-advance business. Like just a few others in the United States, they now offer a type of short-term, high-cost loan that is commonly associated with payday lending. Critics say these loans' steep interest and fees can draw consumers into a dangerous "debt trap." Regions' "Ready Advance" disclosure statement says the costs of its line-of-credit advances equal an annual percentage rate (APR) of 120 percent or more, which is less than what many storefront payday businesses charge. The disclosure, however, also indicates that the bank could potentially subtract a loan payment from a borrower's account within days of the loan being granted, which puts Regions' APR on par with the highest rates charged by storefront lenders, according to Diane M. Standaert, senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). "It is a big concern that banks market this product one way, but all the data we've seen show it doesn't operate the way it is marketed," Standaert said. "Our research has found that the typical bank payday borrower had 13-1/2 payday loans in a year, spent at least six months in payday loan debt and was much more likely to incur overdraft fees." Payday lending can be a major problem in a state with a high population of retirees, such as Florida, CRL has found.
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