Payday Loans: Borrower Beware

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Considering Payday Loans

Strapped for cash? Thinking of getting a payday loan? Think again! Payday-Loan

It may be tempting to get a payday advance to hold you over for a week or two until your next paycheck. What could be the harm? The industry claims they’re providing needed credit to consumers who aren’t able to qualify for conventional loans. The industry claims they are helping those hurting for cash. However, many financially wise see these businesses as predatory. They could even be comparable to old-fashioned usury, luring the borrower further down debts beaten path – dead ending at a financial crisis.

Understanding Payday Loans

Payday lending, or cash advance, is a practice of using a post-dated check or electronic account information as collateral for a short-term loan. Borrowers simply need identification, a bank account and income from a job or benefits, such as Social Security or disability.

Loans aren’t dependent upon the borrower’s credit history. By design, this loan process keeps borrowers in debt. No matter the claim, these businesses are not there to help people out of a bad financial situation. Generally, these lenders don’t accept partial payments. When you can’t pay it off on time and in full, you have to renew the loan.The interest and fees add up quick and become shackles, keeping you in the cycle of debt. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 90% of payday loans go to repeat borrowers—five or more loans per year. They’ve also reported that these lenders receive $4.2 billion in fees from Americans each year.

The Ins and Outs of Payday Loans

Let’s say you need a $400 loan and plan to pay it back with your next paycheck. You are required to give a post-dated check for $460 and receive in return the $400 cash. The lender agrees to hold the check until your next payday. Then, when the loan is due, the borrower has the option to redeem the check by paying $460 in cash, or renew the loan, known as flipping. Flipping involves paying off the $460 by taking out a new $400 loan, or allowing the lender to cash the original check. The finance fee of the initial loan is, in this case, $60, or 390% APR! If the borrower decides to renew the loan three times, which is what most do, the finance charge will end up being $240 – just to borrow $400!!

You can see from this example why this practice is very dangerous and controversial. Critics argue that the lenders are exploiting those who are already desperate because of their current financial crisis. Borrowers get trapped in a cycle of debt. Payday lenders depend on this, and they love the repeat borrower. Because of the controversy, fifteen states have made payday lending illegal.

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