There has been little discussion in the last few years of what was once a hot topic: payday lending. But the issue hasn’t gone away; instead, it has just gone in a different direction and the 360% interest is still there. An article in The Daily Press points out the hardships it is causing. The lede was the story of a 95-year old woman who borrowed $450 and a year later, after making payments of $597, still owed $776. But she wasn’t alone:
•A pharmacy tech at the Hampton VA Medical Center who borrowed $800 in March 2010 managed eight $50 fee payments and another $280 toward the balance, for a total of $680 — but interest, at $221 a month, meant she could never get ahead. She owed $1,249 when the lender took her to court. She settled two years later with a $2,079 payment. She did not return a call asking about her experience.
•Another Hampton woman’s $300 loan had climbed to $800 a year later, when she filed for bankruptcy. That loan, $43,000 in medical bills, the balance owed on a repossessed car and credit card balances overwhelmed what she could manage on her $2,495-a-month salary as a sheriff’s deputy. She had managed to make payments totaling $220 during the three months after borrowing the money, but unpaid interest over that time amounted to $183, and kept piling up after that.
•A Middle Peninsula man told the Virginia Poverty Law Center hotline that he’d paid $1,750 over a three-month period toward a $1,000 open-end credit agreement, and was rebuffed when a round of medical bills prompted him to ask the lender for an easier repayment schedule. He’s regularly called at work with demands for payment.
There has been little effort since 2009 to fix this state-permitted usury. And that’s a shame.