Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Is legalized usory really what PA needs?

Apparently somebody in Harrisburg thinks so, to judge from this story about the "payday loan" scam and attempts to regulate it.
Payday lenders currently operate in Pennsylvania at the edge of the law, but a bill pending in Harrisburg would legalize the practice and permit lenders to keep charging interest rates of more than 400 percent to borrowers.
Supporters of the measure say that if the market exists, it should be regulated, but their suggested "limits" don't look like even enough to make the whole business legitimate:
Such rates are illegal under the state's usury laws, but payday lenders get around that problem through partnerships with out-of-state banks. Under the arrangement, companies such as Advance America or Cash Today are technically brokers for the outside bank loan.
Why not crack down on this ridiculous loophole, and force the rates down to where they don't so easily victimize those who use them? This bill looks to me like an attempt to shield the industry from federal regulators, who have gone after similar practices in Delaware. Promoters of this measure should be ashamed! Worst, it looks to be passed without any public hearings -- unless the public notices now!


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