A new report from the National Consumer Law Center suggests that the push to have more social security benefits deposited directly in recipients accounts has made those recipients vulnerable to payday lending.
That's the conclusion of "Runaway Bandwagon: How the Federal Government's Push for Direct Deposit of Social Security Benefits Has Exposed Seniors to Predatory Bank Loans," a new report issued by the National Consumer Law Center.
"Treasury must stop banks from making these high-cost, short-term loans to Social Security recipients," said Margot Saunders, an attorney with NCLC and an author of the report. "These loans are only made because they are fully secured by a borrower's next direct deposit of federal funds."
"While federal law protects Social Security and other benefits from seizure by creditors, banks regularly take those benefits as repayment for what are essentially payday loans that they have made without even assessing borrowers' ability to afford those loans," Saunders added.
More seniors and vulnerable benefits recipients will become the targets for such loans as the Treasury Department moves forward with its plan to require electronic payments to all federal benefit recipients by 2013. New protections are needed to prevent the victimization of seniors and other vulnerable consumers and preserve income from Social Security and other social insurance programs that many seniors depend upon for survival.