In Maine, the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee has granted its full support to a bill intended to beat back online predatory lenders that target consumers in the state despite a prohibition against payday loans. According to Will Lund, superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, hundreds of Maine residents are victimized each year by these companies, which charge interest rates in the triple digits. Unable to pay the exorbitant costs, many consumers see their loan balances double or triple and become a target of abusive debt-collection efforts.
Lawmakers are proposing to make it a criminal offense to process the electronic transactions that unlicensed Web lenders use to gain access to borrowers' bank accounts. The legislation "will protect Maine families across the state," according to Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford), who co-sponsored the measure with Christine Powers (D-Naples). "A thief no longer needs physical access to the victims to take advantage of them. This bill addresses this reality."
The bill must now endure a series of votes by Maine's full Legislature.