Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Think Payday Loans Are a Thing Of The Past? Think Again.

Heather Latino, Consumer Unit Supervising Attorney

In her Washington Post column last Thursday, Petula Dvorak explored how payday lenders are evolving and persisting in their abuse of low-income working class people in new, innovative ways. Payday loans have long been criticized for luring borrowers into a never-ending cycle of debt under the auspices of offering short term financial relief.  Lenders offering payday loans target the most financially vulnerable and least sophisticated consumer—the very people who are least able to afford the high fees and interest rates that accompany these loans.  In 2007, the Washington Post reported that there were 48 payday lender storefronts in the District.  When the D.C. Council voted in favor of a bill capping interest rates on short term loans, the expectation was that the District’s payday lenders would be forced out of business thus protecting low-income borrowers.  Yet, as Ms. Dvorak explains, many in the payday loan industry have simply moved their operations to locations like Indian reservations and now reach out to borrowers through radio and internet advertising.

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