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Stand with Sen. Brown: It’s time to go after predatory lenders

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Petition to President Obama:

"Immediately implement and fund Title XII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, which would undermine exploitative and predatory lenders by helping Americans access desperately needed alternatives."

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    Stand with Sen. Brown: It’s time to go after predatory lenders

    If you don’t have access to a bank account, you are the mercy of the worst predatory lenders – stuck with payday loans, auto title loans, check cashing fees, and more.

    More than 27 percent of American households are “unbanked,” including nearly half of African-American and Hispanic families and families that earn less than $30,000 each year. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law not only created the consumer protection agency to fight exploitative lending, it included a series of provisions to undermine exploitative financial companies by creating actual alternatives where unbanked Americans can get cash or a loan without outrageous fees and interest rates.1

    Sen. Daniel Akaka called the financial alternatives, “the most important economic empowerment provision in [Wall Street reform].” But today, more than five years later, President Obama’s Treasury Department has yet to implement that section of the bill.2

    Progressive champion Sen. Sherrod Brown is sticking up for struggling Americans and has been demanding the administration get moving.3 We need to show that we stand with him.

    Stand with Sen. Brown: It’s time to go after predatory lenders.

    The average payday loan comes with 339 percent interest, and there are more payday lenders in American than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.4,5 The dirty secret of the payday lending industry is that the real money comes from tricking people into taking out one loan and then locking them into months or years of debt. People who take out more than 10 loans each year account for 75 percent of fees.6

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law created Sen. Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and gave it the authority to crack down on payday lenders, auto title lenders, and check-cashing joints that charge sky-high fees. But it also intended to offer Americans alternatives to those predators altogether. Title XII of the law directed the Treasury Department to establish programs to help people access mainstream financial institutions, create partnerships to directly provide small-dollar loan alternatives, and amend an old law to help Community Development Financial Institutions to do the same thing.7

    Sen. Brown called on the administration to finally implement the law and seek funding for these programs in its 2017 budget request, and the administration followed his lead.8 But making a funding request isn’t enough. The administration can implement parts of this law and start fighting payday lenders without waiting on Congress. We need to make it clear that any delay is unacceptable, and we back Sen. Brown’s call for immediate help for the unbanked.

    Stand with Sen. Brown: It’s time to go after predatory lenders.

    Payday lenders are just one more way that Wall Street picks the pockets of struggling Americans. Many payday lenders are financed by hedge funds and private equity firms that make big bucks by purposefully handing out loans people can’t repay. This means that payday and other predatory lenders, like auto-title loan companies, have powerful political allies fighting anything that cuts into profits.9

    Charging hidden fees and demanding sky-high interest rates, payday lenders are little more than legal loan sharks. We need to make sure that every American has alternatives – and that starts with President Obama getting serious about implementing Wall Street reform.

    Stand with Sen. Brown: It’s time to go after predatory lenders.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Sen. Sherrod Brown, “Brown Letter to President Obama on Small-Dollar Loans,” January 06, 2016.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid.
    4. David Dayen, “The Government is Finally Cracking Down on Legal Loan Sharks,” Fiscal Times, March 27, 2015.
    5. Sen. Brown, “Brown Letter to President Obama on Small-Dollar Loans.”
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid.
    9. Zeke Faux, “Behind 700% Loans, Profits Flow Through Red Rock to Wall Street,” Bloomberg Business, November 24, 2015.