Western Sky Is Expensive, But Doesn't Try to Hide It
January 14, 2013
Western Sky, a division of Payday Financial, advertises loans at high interest that it says are nonetheless cheaper than a payday advance loan. Despite efforts to distinguish itself from payday lenders, it has drawn similar consumer complaints -- such as being charged a $500 origination fee. Western Sky says its loans are installment loans of up to seven years. According to the company's Web site of rates, the borrower would pay a $75 origination fee for a $5,000 loan and would pay 116.73 percent APR for seven years. Over the life of the loan, a $5,000 loan would cost $35,872.72 and the borrower would pay out $40,872.72. By comparison, First Premier Bank's Mastercard, often named as one of the most expensive subprime cards, charges a $120 annual fee and 59.99 percent APR. With this card, the cost of a $5,000 loan over seven years would be $17,191.12. In March 2011, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers sued Western Financial for allegedly making unlicensed, high-interest loans to Colorado consumers. Last year, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw reached a settlement with Western Sky's parent company. A circuit court ruled that, although the firm is owned by a Native American and based on South Dakota's Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Payday Financial is not an Indian tribe and therefore not entitled to tribal immunity. Early in 2012, the Federal Trade Commission charged it with seeking to unfairly and deceptively manipulate the legal system against disadvantaged consumers, who were unfairly forced to travel to South Dakota to appear before a tribal court with no jurisdiction over their cases. An amended complaint contends that the lender's suits against customers are unfair and that its contract language about the courts where these cases would be tried is deceptive.
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