The New CFPB Rule is a Testament to the Power of Community Organizing

Seniors were the largest age group of payday loan borrowers in California last year but a new CFPB rule will better protect borrowers.

Dear CRC Supporter:

Yesterday, the CFPB released a new rule that will protect working families from predatory loans and the financial heartaches they create.

This rule is a victory and is a testament to the power of community organizing by CRC, our members and our allies. Borrowers will benefit from new safeguards requiring lenders to better assess their ability to repay a loan and from restrictions preventing lenders from making multiple, unsuccessful attempts to debit their bank accounts, a practice that results in costly overdrafts and closed bank accounts.

As the CFPB began its work to write this rule, CRC members and their clients courageously stepped up to share their experiences. Working with our partners, we organized listening sessions with the CFPB and with our Congressional representatives where Californians talked about how they got caught in the payday loan debt trap- a cycle of costly rollovers that are profitable for the industry, but that extract precious income and assets away from working families.

California Consumer Leadership Academy

In 2015, CRC partnered with CRL-California and California LULAC to organize the first ever California Consumer Leadership Academy.  Eight courageous women participated in this day-long training, shared their experiences, and crafted strategies on how to stop predatory lending practices in our communities.

At the CFPB’s field hearing where it announced its draft proposal of the rule, I shared the story of a Santa Cruz borrower who had worked with a CRC member after getting a payday loan and then being illegally harassed for repayment of it. We applauded the CFPB’s initial proposal, while also highlighting where we thought the safeguards could be stronger.

Once the public comment period opened, we activated consumers, CRC members and allies, and engaged with local, state, and federal elected officials to ensure the rules were as strong as possible. Consumers shared their stories in the media and we helped them to file CFPB complaints. Local mayors voiced their support. As a result of CRC and our member’s organizing efforts, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous motion in support of strong rules. California state legislators, as well as our two senators and more than half of our congressional delegation (led by Representative Maxine Waters) weighed in with their support.

Over 100 California nonprofits also weighed in with the CFPB and our message was loud and clear: California families need a strong CFPB rule that protects their income and assets from predatory lenders.

We applaud the CFPB for its thoughtful approach to this rule and we want to extend our gratitude to our members and allies who worked tirelessly to organize and to protect our communities from predatory lending. We’re also grateful to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for their support of this work.

We anticipate the industry will attempt to get this rule overturned- either through the courts or the Congressional Review Act, but rest assured we will continue our advocacy in support of this rule and the other work the CFPB is doing to stand up for Main Street.

My statement on the rules is now available on CRC’s website and you can read a CFPB fact sheet about the rules here.

Thank you for your support.

Paulina Gonzalez

Executive Director

Los Angeles County Takes Stand Against Predatory Payday, Car Title, Installment Lending Practices, Urges Strong CFPB Rules

Editor’s note: If your organization would like to support strong consumer protections being included in the new CFPB rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans, please contact Liana Molina (liana AT calreinvest.org) at CRC and she can help.  The deadline to give your feedback is approaching fast- it’s October 7, 2016!

On Thursday, September 8th, the Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Hilda L. Solis, hosted a press conference with LA community leaders where she talked about the financial harms caused by predatory payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans.

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(Photo credits: Supervisor Solis' office, LULAC, Samuel Chu, and CRC)

LA County Motion

At the press conference, Supervisor Solis announced an LA County motion in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implementing strong federal rules to better protect consumers from harmful lending practices by payday, car title, and high cost installment lenders. The motion was approved unanimously the following week, making Los Angeles County the largest county in California (and the US) to pass a motion supporting strong rules by the CFPB to better protect consumers from predatory lending.

Supervisor Solis explained: “This motion is an important way for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to demonstrate that we believe protecting families and their pocketbooks is good public policy and that we strongly support the CFPB finalizing a rule that will prioritize borrowers over ill-gotten profits.”

Community Leaders

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds, associate program director at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, opened the event. He explained: “The words of Exodus 22:24 remind us that ‘If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them.’ We seek a just and caring society in which those in need are not set on downward spiral of debt and hopelessness. That is why we must stop the abusive practice of payday lending which profits off the hardships of those living paycheck to paycheck. ”

Borrowers Discuss Their Experiences

During the press conference, former payday loan consumers also spoke about their experience with the so-called “payday loan debt trap.”  The “debt trap” refers to the fact that most payday loan borrowers are unable to repay their first loan when it comes due two weeks after they got it. So, they are forced to roll over or renew the loan, often multiple times, and they are paying an average APR in California of 366% when borrowing these loans.

Christina Griffin explained:

“When I had a financial emergency, I thought I could use a payday loan once and be done with it. Instead, I couldn’t pay back the loan two weeks later- and also be able to pay my other expenses. So, I had to keep rolling over my payday loan- which meant more and more fees and less money for other things- like groceries. As a former customer who survived the “debt trap,” I’m urging the CFPB to put a stop to this “debt trap” for future borrowers.”

Rosa Barragán shared her story of getting caught in a long term cycle of payday loan debt when she took out a loan following the passing of her husband.  You can read more of her story in La Opinión’s article about the press conference: Exigen mano dura para las compañías de ‘payday loans’.

rosa-barragan-photo-credit-chair-solis-office

Rosa Barragan speaking

Pit of Despair Art Installation

In addition to the press conference, a visually stunning, life-sized 3D art installation, the “Pit of Despair” was unveiled.  It was created by an artist named Melanie Stimmel and the team at We Talk Chalk, and it is a graphic illustration of how payday lending really works. The interactive art display has traveled around the country to visually demonstrate the “debt trap” that the majority of payday loan borrowers find themselves in when they are unable to make a balloon payment to repay their loan two weeks after they receive it. As a result, most borrowers renew their loans repeatedly (incurring more charges each time), which has been labeled the “payday loan debt trap.”

Putting finishing touch on Pit of Despair- thanks Americans for Financial Reform!

Putting finishing touch on Pit of Despair- thanks to Americans for Financial Reform for sharing it!

The Negative Impact of Payday Loan Stores in Los Angeles
Los Angeles County is home to approximately 800 payday loan storefronts, by far the most of any county in California. Because of the structure and terms of payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans, they worsen the financial position of most borrowers. Research has found that lenders are disproportionately located in communities of color, and are a net drag on the overall economy.

Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, explained the impact  of payday loan fees recently in an LA Daily News OpEd:

“These “alternatives” drain low-income residents’ scant savings. More than $54 million in check-cashing fees and $88 million in payday loan fees each year are paid by county residents. If those consumers had better financial services options, much of that $142 million could go toward building household savings, thus increasing economic stability for their families and communities.”

Gabriella Landeros from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor explained: “Working families deserve better than the harmful financial products peddled by these lenders, and we join the LA County Board of Supervisors in urging the CFPB to finalize and enforce a strong rule to protect consumers.”

Liana Molina, director of community engagement at the California Reinvestment Coalition, helped organize the event and coordinated with the StopTheDebtTrap team at Americans for Financial Reform to bring the “Pit of Despair” art installation.  She explained:

“The payday loan industry advertises their loans as quick, one-time “fix” for a financial emergencies. In reality, these loans are designed to do the opposite. The majority of borrowers will end up renewing their loans repeatedly and incurring huge fees every time they do so. The CFPB can stop this “debt trap cycle” by implementing a strong rule that would require lenders to underwrite these loans, to determine that borrowers have the ability to repay without having to re-borrow or default on other expenses.”

CRC extends a big thank you to the organizations that made the event possible:

East LA Community Corporation (ELACC),

LULAC – California,

New Economics for Women (NEW),

Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF),

Montebello Housing Development Corporation (MHDC),

Consumer Action,

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO,

Labor Community Services, AFL CIO,

Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE),

Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON),

Multi-Cultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change,

Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC),

Haven Neighborhood Services,

Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD),

Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC),

Public Counsel,

Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and

VEDC

Additional Background on the Impact of Payday Loans in California 

While fourteen states and the District of Columbia have interest rate caps of about 36% APR or less, California law allows for two-week, $300 payday loans at 459% APR interest.

The California Department of Business Oversight recently released two reports on payday lending, and car title and high cost installment loans.

A few stats are included below:

1) Total Number of payday loans: Approximately 12.3 million payday loans were made in California in 2015 and the aggregate dollar amount of the payday loans was about $4.2 billion.

2) Average number of loans and average APRs: The average number of payday loans per customer was 6.5, paying an average APR of 366% (a 5% increase from 2014).

3) Repeat borrowers and “churning” of loans: Contrary to loans being advertised as a “one time fix for emergencies,” 64% of fees in 2015 ($53.53 million) – came from customers who had seven or more payday loan transactions during the year.

2015 Payday Loan Statistics for California

Editor’s note: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finalizing new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans. They want to hear from YOU about your experiences and recommendations for the loans. Please take two minutes to provide your insights here. 

California Payday Lending Statistics

1) Total Number of loans:  Approximately 12.3 million loans were made in California in 2015 and the aggregate dollar amount of the loans was about $4.2 billion.

2) Average number of loans and average APRs: The average number of loans per customer was 6.5, paying an average APR of 366% (average APR increased 5% from 2014).[1]

3) Repeat borrowers and “churning” of loans: Contrary to loans being advertised as a “one time fix for emergencies” the number of Californians who obtained 10 payday loans (462,334) was far greater than the number who only had one loan (323,870). Subsequent transactions by the same borrower accounted for 76% of the total number of loans made in 2015 with 47% of subsequent loans made the same day a previous loan transaction was paid off and another 23% happening within 1-7 days.

CA DBO new report number of transactions

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics

4) Churning profits: 64% of fees in 2015 ($53.53 million) – came from customers who had seven or more transactions during the year.

Fees collected

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics 

5) Repossessions: 16,989 car title loans resulted in the consumer’s car being repossessed in 2015.[2] At the national level, the CFPB has found that 1 in 5 car title loans ultimately results in a repossession.[3]

6) Fees: California payday loan consumers pay over $507 million annually in payday loans and over $239 million in car title loans.  This ranks California in the #2 spot for highest amount of fees paid for car title and payday loans.[4]

7 Economic drain: Payday lending is an estimated $135 million net drain on California’s economy every year and subtracts 1,975 jobs.[5]

Customers age

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics on ages 

The California Reinvestment Coalition builds an inclusive and fair economy that meets the needs of communities of color and low-income communities by ensuring that banks and other corporations invest and conduct business in our communities in a just and equitable manner.

You might also be interested in these payday lending posts:

Editorials Against Payday Lenders (As of July 2016, there’s been more than 150 editorials written from around the country about the financial harm caused by these lenders).

Payday Lender Hall of Shame This industry is known for spectacularly shady practices against its consumers. We’ve compiled some of the worst.

8 Reasons Not to Get An Online Payday Loan Is that really a lender’s website you’re on?  Or is it a broker who will re-sell your sensitive information repeatedly?

Data Sources:

[1] CA Dept. of Business Oversight press release, available at: http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Press/press_releases/2016/2016%20CDDTL%20Annual%20Report%20and%20Industry%20Survey%20Press%20Release%2007-06-16.pdf

[2] CA Dept. of Business Oversight 2015 CFLL annual report, available at: http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Licensees/Finance_Lenders/pdf/2015_CFLL_Aggregated_Annual_Report_FINAL.pdf

[3] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau press release, available at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-finds-one-five-auto-title-loan-borrowers-have-vehicle-seized-failing-repay-debt/

[4] Center for Responsible Lending report, available at: http://responsiblelending.org/sites/default/files/nodes/files/research-publication/crl_statebystate_fee_drain_may2016_0.pdf

[5] Insight Center for Community Economic Development report, available at: http://ww1.insightcced.org/uploads/assets/Net%20Economic%20Impact%20of%20Payday%20Lending.pdf

How Californians Are Working to #StopTheDebtTrap created by Payday and other High Cost Loans

Editor’s note: The CFPB, a federal agency, has proposed new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment lenders.

 

BUT, they need to hear from consumers- that means you! We have an easy-to-use page where you can weigh in- it only takes a minute and will help bring about important consumer protections with these loans. Please share a line or two in the comments box about why you care about this issue and want to see strong federal reforms.

PS: You do NOT have to be a payday, car title, or installment borrower to sign the petition.

 

Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced  new federal rules under consideration for payday, car title and other high cost consumer installment loans.

Paulina Gonzalez, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition attended the CFPB’s field hearing in Richmond, Virginia, where the draft proposal was unveiled. Gonzalez testified on the consumer panel about the need for federal reforms.

Back in California, CRC members and our allies have been busy organizing to support rules with strong consumer protections that must require lenders to assess borrowers’ “ability to repay” before extending them a loan. If you are an organization that’s interested in getting involved, please contact CRC’s payday organizer, Liana Molina: liana@calreinvest.org.

If you’re a consumer, please consider sharing your story with payday loans in our short survey.  Sharing your story can be an important way to help clean up this industry!

Some pictures from our work during the past few months are included below.

In October, community advocates sponsored and organized a Southern California Payday Reform Strategy Convening in Los Angeles to discuss the current state of payday lending, the proposed CFPB rules, and the impasse for consumer protection legislation in Sacramento. The picture below is Representative Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee along with Hernan Vera, who was president of Public Counsel at the time of the convening.

Payday Loan convening

In December, the Coalition Against Payday Predators, a coalition CRC belongs to, held a rally at a payday loan store in San Jose.  Representative Zoe Lofgren spoke at the rally, as did Dr. Emmett Carson, the founding CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren speakout against payday loans

In April, CRC partnered with CRL-California and California LULAC to organize the first ever California Consumer Leadership Academy.  Eight courageous women participated in this day-long training, shared their experiences, and crafted strategies on how to stop predatory lending practices in our communities.

California Consumer Leadership Academy

LA and Bay Area Trainings on CFPB proposed rules and filing complaints. In April and May, CRC organized two trainings, titled: “”Winning and Defending Strong CFPB Rules to End High-Cost Debt Traps” where we worked with local service providers to explain the CFPB proposal, the importance of it, and how to file CFPB complaints with or on behalf of the consumers they work with.

April Training in San Francisco at Mission Economic Development Agency

Stop The Debt Trap

May Training at the Community Center at Sol Y Luna Apartments, in partnership with the Center for Asset Building Opportunities and the East LA Community Corporation

Stop the Debt Trap LA

The picture below is of CRC, CRL-California and National Council of La Raza staff  at the NCLR Latino Policy Summit, where we presented on the status of payday lending in California and the current CFPB rule making process. CRC also presented at the Housing Rights Center Summit in Los Angeles and Housing California’s conference in Sacramento.

Stop the Debt Trap NCLR

Finally, CRC has been leading the charge in organizing our members and partners in outreach, education and advocacy work with members of Congress representing various congressional districts across the state. The CFPB will need strong political support to propose, enact and defend strong consumer protections.

Will Bank Payday Loans Become a Thing of the Past?

deposit advance loans as hamster wheels

The New York Times editorial board, which has written about payday lenders previously this year (Progress on Predatory Lending)  wrote earlier this week (Banks as Payday Lenders)  about payday loans that are offered by banks like Wells Fargo, US Bank, Regions Financial and Fifth Third Bank.  While the banks call them different names (like “deposit advance”), they share many of the same negative characteristics as loans offered by storefront and online payday lenders, including sky-high interest rates and short repayment terms.

Fortunately, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recently released guidance to member banks that if they continue making these loans, they will face much higher scrutiny by their regulators.

Last year, the California Reinvestment Coalition, along with our national partners, Woodstock Institute, New Economy Project, and Reinvestment Partners, released a report  (The Case for Banning Payday Lending: Snapshots from Four Key States) focused on payday lending which  cited the dangers created for consumers in each of our states (California, Illinois, North Carolina, and New York) by these loans.

While we are excited to see this guidance, as American Banker noted, (Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank Face Crossroads on Deposit Advances) the Federal Reserve did not sign onto this guidance, which may mean that the two banks it regulates that offers these loans: Regions Financial and Fifth Third may continue making these destructive loans.

The momentum against payday loans- whether they’re provided through a storefront, a mainstream bank, or online, is growing.  As an example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its first enforcement action against a payday lender in November:  The Plain Dealer: Cash America to pay $19 million – most in refunds – in CFPB’s first payday action.   This momentum will likely continue growing, with the CFPB likely announcing rulemaking next year on payday lenders.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now accepting complaints about payday lenders. Consumers are encouraged to visit: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

Are you a Californian who has used a payday loan and would like to share your story? Do you want to get involved in local efforts to restrict payday lending in our communities? If so, please contact Liana Molina, CRC’s Payday Campaign Organizer: Liana@calreinvest.org  or 415-864-3980.

To stay up to date on financial justice issues in California, especially as they relate to low income communities, and communities of color, you can follow the California Reinvestment Coalition on our Facebook page, via TwitterGoogle+, watch our movies on our YouTube Channelsign up to receive our newsletter and action alerts, and of course, visit our website.

Teaching California Youth About Predatory Payday Loans

Editor’s note: The CFPB, a federal agency, has proposed new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment lenders.

 

BUT, they need to hear from consumers- that means you! We have an easy-to-use page where you can weigh in- it only takes a minute and will help bring about important consumer protections with these loans. Please share a line or two in the comments box about why you care about this issue and want to see strong federal reforms.

PS: You do NOT have to be a payday, car title, or installment borrower to sign the petition.

payday lending truth in lendingThis weekend, Liana Molina, CRC’s payday campaign organizer, will be presenting at the School for Economic Justice about payday loans and why they are so destructive to California families.

The theme for this weekend is “Access to Fair Financial Services,” and it is sponsored by the Youth Leadership Institute and Mission SF Community Financial Center.

Over the course of the weekend, the youth participants will learn how predatory financial services and products have targeted low-income communities, immigrants, and minorities.  Participants will also learn how grassroots organizing on issues like payday lending can lead to positive policy changes.

Activities will include 

At the conclusion of the retreat, the youth participants, in groups, will present action plans to address payday lending.

Liana explains, “This weekend is important for two reasons.  First, the more people that know about the payday loan debt trap, including youth, the less likely they are to fall into it.  Second, by learning about this industry and how it targets low income communities, youth are able to organize and work together to restrict payday lending- like we saw recently in Daly City: “Youth Take A Stand On Payday Lending’s Crippling Affect on Daly City”   Other successes this fall in Sunnyvale and Long Beach are helping to create more momentum to restrict harmful payday lenders and other fringe lenders.”

Are you a Californian who has used a payday loan and would like to share your story? Do you want to get involved in local efforts to restrict payday lending in our communities? If so, please contact Liana Molina, CRC’s Payday Campaign Organizer: Liana@calreinvest.org  or 415-864-3980.