How 2 minutes of your time – today – can help millions
“Not long ago, Renee Bergeron—a single mother from Duluth, Minnesota—was between paychecks and took out a small payday loan to help cover her rent. Once her payday came around, Bergeron found—much to her dismay—that she was unable to pay her basic bills and also make her loan repayment. As a result, Bergeron took out another payday loan in order to finance the initial loan. Today, nearly a decade later, Bergeron and her children live in a homeless shelter, and she remains saddled with more than $4,000 in payday loan debt.”
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know we’ve previously talked about how payday and car title loans trap low-income Americans in a cycle of debt. And you probably know the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is accepting comments from the public on their proposed rule to rein in this predatory practice. But you may not realize the comment period closes this Friday, October 7. So we want to highlight this topic again, in the hopes that you’ll take just two minutes of your time to help millions stuck in this debt trap. Please submit a comment today to tell the CFPB why a strong rule to rein in the worst payday abuses is critical.
We’ve shared some of the scary statistics surrounding payday and car title lending before. But this isn’t just about the statistics; it’s about the people behind the statistics. People like Renee Bergeron, whose story above is told by our friends at the Center for American Progress in their new report on how predatory debt traps threaten vulnerable families. And people like Rebecca Thompson, a payday borrower who told her story to TalkPoverty:
Sadly, Renee and Rebecca are not alone. There’s also Billie Aschmeller, who took out a car title loan to help her daughter buy a car seat and crib for her arriving baby. But when the loan payments meant Billie couldn’t cover her basic expenses, she ended up living in her car. In Billie’s own words,
“You can’t imagine the stress of living in your car and knowing those people are holding the title. What if they come and take your car with you and everything you own in it?”
Billie’s is just one of many horror stories in a new report, Caught in the Debt Trap, from People’s Action Institute and Americans for Financial Reform. Along with stories, the report contains clear recommendations for how the CFPB can reform the industry and promote affordable, non-predatory lending.
While the CFBP proposed rule is a great first step, it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t go far enough to ensure that, after repaying the loan, the borrower will have enough money left over to cover other basic living expenses without reborrowing, and it contains several loopholes pushed for by payday lenders. And yet, even with these loopholes, the payday lending industry is pushing hard to get the CFPB rule weakened even further. And you know who they’re trying to get to advocate for them? The very people they’re taking advantage of. As Billie Aschmeller explained,
“You know the funny thing? When I went to the payday loan store, they told me that the government is breathing down their necks and asked me if I could advocate for them so they could keep their loans available. I told them I couldn’t get involved in that. I didn’t tell them I’ve been standing up and asking for fair regulations. These people prey on poor people like me.”
We need a strong rule, without loopholes, to stop predatory lending and help low-income Americans break out of this dangerous cycle. Submit a comment to the CFPB today telling them to do all they can to stop the unfair, abusive and deceptive practices of payday and car title lenders. The Stop the Debt Trap Coalition has made it very easy to submit comments. Just click here, and you’ll see a box where you can copy and paste in a paragraph just below the box. Ideally, you’ll write something in your own words first, or use your own words entirely. More than 400,000 comments asking for a stronger rule have already been submitted but we can’t stop now, because the predatory lenders are fighting hard to protect their outrageous interest rates and debt-trapping ways. You can see the comments CHN submitted here.
After you submit your comments, encourage others to do the same using #StopTheDebtTrap on Twitter.