By Patty Wentz of Portland, Oregon. Patty is the communications director for Our Oregon.
As the legislature gets closer to passage of the Predatory Lending Package to end legal usury in Oregon, our friends at the Center for Responsible Lending are giving us a rare glimpse into the ugly underbelly of legal loan sharking. Check out this video from a former payday lender.
Meanwhile, here in Oregon, the lenders are maneuvering to dodge parts of the legislation, tricking loan applicants into opposing the bill, and working to weaken the package.
In other words, it's business as usual.
At issue is the four-bill Predatory Loan Package, which includes: House Bill 2203 to regulate internet, phone and mail payday loans; House Bill 2204 to regulates some types of car title loans; House Bill 2205 to implement underwriting requirements for payday loans; and, House Bill 2871 to set a uniform 36-percent cap on all consumer loans. Together, this package will close the legal loopholes that allow payday lenders to charge an average interest rate of 528 percent in Oregon.
Lenders have launched an aggressive campaign to protect their profits and kill the legislation.
Recently there has been a mad rush at the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Affairs as payday lenders are poised to remake themselves a second time in order to avoid last year's Senate Bill 1105, which affects short-term loan licenses and is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2007. The rush started twelve weeks ago. See which lenders in your home town are making the switch.
The industry is also running a dirty tricks campaign, as reported by the Eugene Register-Guard this past Tuesday. Customers are being pressured to call the state legislature to oppose the predatory loan package.
"I felt kind of pressured, like if I didn't agree to make the phone call, I wouldn't be able to get the loan," one customer told the Register-Guard.
We are optimistic that these last-ditch, desperate measures will not block the Predatory Lending Package. All of the bills have been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee and are headed for a full vote by the Senate.
Tell your Senator to stand up to the dirty tricks of the car title and payday lenders and to vote YES on the entire Predatory Loan Package. Send an email today.