Lawmakers rally against predatory lending
BATON ROUGE - Ralliers at the state Capitol Tuesday focused attention on what they call predatory lending by payday loan companies.
"This is a moral issue," said Senator Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge. "What is happening to the people of our state is criminal."
Lawmakers pledged to also fight for bills that would limit the industries profits.
"I will file a bill that will put predatory lenders charging more than 45% in jail and/or fine of $10,000," said Senator Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa.
The political pledge was fueled by the true stories of working people trapped in what they called an endless cycle of debt.
"I borrowed $300 back in 1995 and ended up paying more than $4,000 back," said Penny Fisher from the podium. "Took me years to do it. And I'm not happy about it."
Baton Rouge resident Dana Jones said her troubles started when her mother had a nervous breakdown. With no insurance prescription costs were out of reach, and she turned to a payday loan for help.
"It's that you just don't know," Jones said. "They portray it like they're going to help. The things they don't tell you is what hurts you."
It took her 12 years to get out of debt from that initial loan. She promises to never set foot in another payday loan store again.
"Go to a family member, church, go somewhere other than a payday loan," Jones said. "Because once you enter, it's almost impossible to get out."
A statement from a payday loan advocacy group called the Community Financial Services Association said putting strict regulations on their industry does not eliminate consumer need. They said it only forces a person to resort to risky deals from unlicensed lenders out of the country, who may be trying to scam consumers.