'Easy money' promises often lead to problems

'Easy money' promises often lead to problems

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Let's face it: We aren't always aware of what flows through the sewers. One particular outrage plaguing us is the payday loan business.

States used to place limits of 24 percent to 42 percent on these high-cost, small-dollar loans that mainly go to cash-strapped people -- but without limits, loans keep flipping, the interest ballooning.

The military puts a 36 percent limit on soldiers' payday loans, but for the rest of us, deregulation opened the door to abuses.

Most of us don't hear about these. Victims are embarrassed, ashamed and consequently silent.

Two local cases: In one, an adult daughter got into money troubles and was ashamed to tell her mother. Result: She took out a $150 loan, no questions asked, with repayment set at four monthly $50 payments with a final payment of $150! Her mom intervened at a point when the original $150 required another $100 for repayment. She figured that the four-month schedule with fees would have meant 353 percent interest!

Here's another local case: Before church members stepped in, one woman had paid $800 for a $250 loan.

The majority using payday loans nationwide are single moms, non-white, in bottom-level jobs. Caught short and targeted by slick TV ads promising "easy money," they rush to get cash to tide them over until payday. Unfamiliar with loan contracts, they are easy picking for the payday loan sharks.

Our city councils are now examining this issue. What will Bloomington-Normal councilmen do to protect our poorest, most vulnerable citizens?

Mark Wyman, Normal

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