Critics of Payday Lending Foresee a New Bill in the Upcoming Idaho Legislature

January 6, 2014
Idaho Statesman 
payday lending news

The grass-roots Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN), which has encouraged the state to pass stricter payday lending rules, also encourages local governments "to stand up and recognize that they have a problem," said ICAN executive director Terri Sterling. The Caldwell City Council was the first to pursue a new zoning law discouraging payday lenders that want to operate in the city. Caldwell's 10 existing payday lending businesses are grandfathered in, but newcomers must go before the council and request a special-use permit. Idaho is one of the most lenient states for payday lending. Under current law, lenders cannot lie in their advertisements, cannot take cars or property as collateral, must disclose their fees, and must give borrowers at least a full business day to change their minds about a loan. Borrowers also are not allowed to "renew" a loan more than three times in a row, and payday lenders must be licensed by the Idaho Department of Finance. However, the state's limit on loan size is $1,000 -- compared to just a few hundred dollars in other states -- and fee caps are nonexistent. "With the state setting no meaningful limitations, (Idaho is) essentially the wild, wild West," said Uriah King of the Center for Responsible Lending, but there is more pressure for change coming from surrounding states as well as individual cities. A "bottom-up" strategy against unscrupulous lending has forced the hands of lawmakers in other states but not always in the direction advocates wanted, he added. While some state actions prevented financial businesses from preying on consumers, sometimes the new laws are "weak or minimal, and then they preempt the city's ability to do anything," King said.

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