payday lending

James Malone, Texas Tribune

Signs offering promises of “quick cash” can be seen all over Texas. So-called payday lenders offer short-term loans under $700, but those loans have been criticized for interest rates that can climb to 500 percent.

For some customers, taking one on leaves them in a never-ending cycle of debt. It’s controversial, and the practice is actually banned in 12 states.

Recently, it’s become an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

The topic was kicked up after the chairman of the Texas Finance Commission – William White – made comments to the El Paso Times suggesting payday lenders should be able to charge whatever fees they want. Previously unheard of, White’s comments put him in the spotlight among payday loan regulation advocates.

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Supporters say a new bill in the Texas Legislature would help protect consumers and regulate a quiet but burgeoning industry.

House Bill 1595 from Rep. Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) would regulate the growing industry of lawsuit lending. Lawsuit lending companies provide loans to plaintiffs who need money while waiting on a settlement. But many of these loans come with high interest rates, some as high as 150 percent.

James Malone, Texas Tribune

Legislators this year will once again try to combat some short-term lending practices that critics say prey on poor Texans.

Credit access businesses, including payday lenders and auto-title loan businesses, have faced criticism for charging massive interest rates to customers seeking loans and no way to help pay them off. Last session, legislators passed a law that allows more oversight and tracking of these businesses, but a bill that would have addressed the so-called cycle of debt did not pass.

flickr.com/andrewbain

The City of Austin is encouraging consumers to come to city staff with complaints about payday lenders and auto title lenders.

It’s been almost one year since the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that requires lenders to register with the city and to follow restrictions on loan amounts and refinancing.

“Recently, the City of Austin put together a resource – an informational website – for both credit access businesses as well as consumers,” says city spokesperson Patricia Fraga.