According to a Missouri Better Business Bureau study (PDF) published in 2009, Missouri's state laws allow interest rates of 1950 percent to be charged on a two-week loan of $100.00, while most neighboring states' laws limit those rates to around 400 percent, which is not wonderful, but not as obviously impossible as Missouri's.
A report published by National Public Action this month has even more devastating details of the effects of this type of predatory lending, and link payday lenders to big banks' profits:
- Payday lenders take at the very least $3.4 billion from our communities every year in fees alone. This figure represents some $3.1 billion in wealth stripped from desperate borrowers -money that could have gone to buy needed groceries or school supplies- to pump up the payday lenders' fat bottom lines.
- Nationwide, revenues for the major payday loan companies (Advance America, EZ Corp, First Cash Financial, Dollar Financial, Cash America, QC Holdings) have risen to their highest level - $1.48 Billion per year- more than before the financial crisis.
- Big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and US Bank finance approximately 42% of the entire payday loan industry, providing the industry the capital for usurious and predatory loans.
Needless to say, the CFPB could not be investigating these loan sharks any sooner, particularly when they prey upon the working poor who are already struggling. These types of loans are typically targeted at minority communities, but also military families and other struggling groups. But while the CFPB investigation continues, a coalition of churches, bankers and nonprofits are working to create an alternative around a microlending model. In addition, petitions are being circulated for voter initiatives to limit interest rates on payday loans to more - ahem - reasonable rates.