Pennsylvania Bans Online Payday Lender
The owner of two online payday loan businesses that charged interest rates ranging from 89% to 169%, plus fees, will no longer be doing business in Pennsylvania.
According to the state’s Department Banking and Securities in Harrisburg, Pa., the Anaheim, Calif.-based companies were not licensed by the state and made loans to more than 18,000 consumers for more than seven years.
Those consumers are now eligible to receive restitution for being charged excessively high interest rates on loans that ranged from several hundred to several thousand dollars, Ed Novak, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities said.
The owner of the payday loan businesses, J. Paul Reddam, signed a consent agreement and order last week for violating Pennsylvania’s consumer lending laws. The companies Reddam owned were CashCall Inc. and WS Funding LLC, as well as Delbert Services Corp., a Nevada-based collection agency.
The consent agreement requires Reddam to stop advertising in the state, bans his companies from making loans to consumers for three years and requires modifying interest rates to 6% annual interest on outstanding loans. The agreement also mandates that Reddam request credit reporting agencies to remove all reports made by his companies and pay the Department of Banking and Securities $1 million that will be used to provide restitution to consumers.
Pennsylvania authorities said that since 2009 at least 13 states have taken similar enforcement or civil actions against Reddam and his businesses. Those states were Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Virginia.
What’s more, in December 2013 the CFPB filed a lawsuit against Reddam alleging “unfair, deceptive and abusive practices, including illegally debiting consumer checking accounts for loans that were void.”
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association would not comment specifically on the state’s case against Reddam but acknowledged consumers in the state have short-term cash needs.
“From our perspective, we know there is a need for small-dollar short-term loans and we believe that there is a fair way to offer those kind of loans,” Michael Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president for communications and public relations said.
In 2006, PCUA launched the Credit Union Better Choice program, a payday alternative where credit unions offer borrowers a 90-day loan with a $500 limit.
A typical $500 payday loan costs consumers $15 for every $100 borrowed for two weeks, or about $450 over 90 days. A $500 Credit Union Better Choice loan cost consumers approximately $42.50 for the same 90 days, and at the end of the loan term, the consumer has $50 in a savings account, according to PCUA.
In addition to helping consumers build a savings habit, the program also provides consumers with financial education to help them make sound financial decisions.
Across Pennsylvania, 65 credit unions offer the Credit Union Better Choice service, which has saved members more than $27 million since 2006 compared to using a traditional payday lending product, PCUA said.