Beware payday loans during financial crisis

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)–The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to read the fine print when considering a payday loan.

People who currently don’t have the money to cover a financial emergency or are struggling to pay bills may look to a quick loan to cover expenses until they get back to work. But some payday lenders are not honest about how they collect on those loans and take more payments than they said they would.

The FTC recently sued several on-line payday lenders for alleged practices in extending high-fee, short-term “payday” loans. In websites, telemarketing, and loan agreements, the companies told people they would repay a set amount with a fixed number of payments withdrawn from people’s bank accounts. But, instead of doing what they said they would do, these companies kept people on a costly treadmill — repeatedly taking money from their bank accounts, paycheck after paycheck, without ever reducing the amounts they borrowed. The FTC says some people wound up paying around $1,200 for, say, $250 loans.

The FTC says that the companies allegedly debited bank accounts without notifying people and getting proper authorization. The FTC also says that the companies did not give people clear and accurate information about the loans’ key terms, and unlawfully took remotely created checks after selling loans via telemarketing. And when people tried to get copies of their loan agreements or talk to someone about the payment terms, the FTC says the companies made this virtually impossible. In many instances, people had to close their bank accounts to get the payments to stop, according to the FTC’s case.

If you need cash quickly, remember that payday loans are often short-term, high-cost loans. Learn how to manage debt and budget for emergencies. And report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint if a payday lender tricks you into paying more than it led you to believe.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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