All this debate, though, does little to reckon with the desperation that drives consumers to seek out payday loans. Federal regulation can provide a backstop for states that seek to protect their residents from what they view as predatory loans, setting a nationwide regulatory floor backed by federal enforcement resources. But until the government addresses the causes of household financial fragility that fuel demand for payday loans, the best it can do is to regulate the supply.
By examining payday loan prices in each state from the four largest lenders, Pew found that over five months a $300 payday loan would cost an Ohio borrower $680 in interest and fees, which equals an average annual percentage rate of 591 percent (which is close to the 594 percent figure cited by Cordray.) No other state had a higher rate, according to the Pew analysis. The interest and fees amount in Ohio was slightly exceeded by Texas, but Texas has more protections for consumers, including a 180-day loan limit that Ohio doesn’t have.
In a profitability analysis by Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, it was determined that the average profit margin from seven publicly traded payday lending companies (including pawn shops) in the U.S. was 7.63%, and for pure payday lenders it was 3.57%. These averages are less than those of other traditional lending institutions such as credit unions and banks.
To reduce these legal conflicts between states and stanch the supply of unregulated high-rate loans, reformers tried to establish a common regulatory framework by drafting a uniform law to govern small loans. The first draft of the law, known as the Uniform Small Loan Law, appeared in the late 1910s and allowed licensed lenders to make loans of up to $300 (more than $4,000 in today’s dollars) and to charge fees and interest of no more than 3.5 percent per month. The law, drafted by the Russell Sage Foundation and members of the trade association for small-sum lenders, aimed to legitimize the business by drawing in “honest capital,” meaning lenders who were “reputable men” and would charge no more than the maximum rate.
Find out if you have — or if your bank will offer you — overdraft protection on your checking account. If you are using most or all the funds in your account regularly and you make a mistake in your account records, overdraft protection can help protect you from further credit problems. Find out the terms of the overdraft protection available to you — both what it costs and what it covers. Some banks offer “bounce protection,” which may cover individual overdrafts from checks or electronic withdrawals, generally for a fee. It can be costly, and may not guarantee that the bank automatically will pay the overdraft.
The Center for Responsible Lending found that almost half of payday loan borrowers will default on their loan within the first two years. Taking out payday loans increases the difficulty of paying the mortgage, rent, and utility bills. The possibility of increased economic difficulties leads to homelessness and delays in medical and dental care and the ability to purchase drugs. For military men, using payday loans lowers overall performance and shortens service periods. To limit the issuance of military payday loans, the 2007 Military Lending Act established an interest rate ceiling of 36% on military payday loans. A 2013 article by Dobbie and Skiba found that more than 19% of initial loans in their study ended in default. Based on this, Dobbie and Skiba claim that the payday loan market is high risk.