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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Pentagon Federal Credit Union said Wednesday it has selected three test areas – metro Washington, Fayetteville, N.C. and Killeen, Texas – for the rollout in June of a foundation-backed program combating payday lenders. The program, called ARK (Asset Recovery Kit) aims at allowing members for a $6 flat fee to obtain up to $500 in loans provided participants take part in financial counseling seminars on the road to their own financial health. ARK, first unveiled last November, is being offered through the year-old PFCU Foundation which seeks to raise $500,000 to support the program, Roderick Mitchell, president of the Foundation and senior vice president for community development at PFCU, said the funds would go toward paying counselor salaries and marketing to operate the offices. The Washington site yet to be determined, he said, would serve Fort Belvoir and various other military bases in D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The Fayetteville facility would serve Pope Air Force Base while the Texas unit would handle the Fort Hood Army installation. Separately, Mitchell will “provide the negative side” in a debate with the head of the national payday lenders trade group, the Community Financial Services Association of America, during the annual workshop session of the American Society of Military Comptrollers slated June 3 in Cleveland, said a spokesman for the Alexandria-based ASMC.

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