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Your recent article (cutimes.com, July 31) about our payday loan alternative gave readers a less-than-flattering impression. I feel compelled to respond. A few years ago, we discovered that a segment of our membership was using payday lenders. We wanted to offer these members a lower-cost alternative, an opportunity to obtain financial counseling and a means to escape the vicious cycle that payday loans can create. Our loans cost about half of the average charged by payday lenders in Las Vegas. So far this year, we have saved our members nearly $700,000. In fact, our members have saved more than they’ve paid to the credit union. Each borrower is invited to use our free financial counseling service. Also, any borrower can automatically convert the loan to monthly payments with a one-year term. The interest rate for this loan is 18% with no fees, for a monthly payment of about $65. We have found that consumers of almost all demographic categories utilize our payday loan alternative, even some high-income individuals. There are substantial costs involved, including loan documentation, collection costs, loan losses, subscription to a separate reporting agency, data processing and legal review. Our program is in strict compliance with all laws, rules and regulations, with legal counsel closely involved. We are proud of our program and the savings we have provided our members. Ignoring these members’ needs would be contrary to our mission as a credit union.

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Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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