INDIANAPOLIS -- A new coalition is forming to push back against predatory lending and urge state lawmakers to take action to protect consumers.
Indiana has 286 payday-loan storefronts, where people go to take out small loans with high interest rates, and borrowers are often low-income residents who cannot pay the loans back and get caught in a debt cycle.
Natalie James, one of the leaders of the Hoosiers for Responsible Lending coalition, said predatory lending has been an issue brewing for years, and she noted the pandemic has made many folks more financially insecure.
"We aim to send a message to our federal and state lawmakers that a pandemic is no time to allow lenders to take advantage of Hoosiers' financial distress," James asserted.
Among payday borrowers, 82% take out another loan within 30 days of paying off their previous one. James noted some states have reasonable caps on the annual percentage rate (APR), the overall cost of financing these loans, including fees, but Indiana is not one of them.
Andy Nielsen, another leader with the coalition, said they support legislation to cap the APR for payday loans at 36%. In Indiana, the current cap is 391%.
Nielsen explained, "36% APR has been a long-held rate that preserves a borrower's ability to repay, and allows lenders to still earn a profit."
Nielsen added payday loans drain $60 million a year in fees from Indiana consumers, and with a 36% APR cap, they could save millions of dollars.
Sixteen states plus D.C. have already implemented similar caps, and a study in North Carolina shows the absence of payday lenders has not impacted credit availability for low- and moderate-income families there.
by Lily Bohlke, Producer