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Payday lenders hope to return in Georgia
March 18, 2007 - Atlanta, Georgia When the Georgia General Assembly opened for
business in January, representatives of the payday lending industry
walked in the Capitol's door, eager for another battle.
"There is a huge need for this service," said Allan Jones, founder and chairman of Check Into Cash Inc., one of the nation's largest payday lending chains. "They can criticize it all they want to, but that doesn't change the need."
The industry says thousands of Georgians now cross state lines to take out payday loans.
Whether the industry has shed its predatory image will be tested this week at the General Assembly, when the House is expected to take up a bill to legalize payday lending.
The bill has gained traction in recent weeks. Jabo Covert, a Check Into Cash executive who has been heavily working the Capitol halls, thinks it is positioned to pass.
"A huge majority of legislators feel like they made a mistake [in 2004]," Covert said.
But consumer advocates are scoffing at the notion that people need payday lenders. "It's a business model that entraps people," said Sue Berkowitz of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
The industry is thriving in South Carolina, where consumers took out 4.3 million payday loans between September 2005 and August 2006. The state now has more payday lending outlets than McDonald's franchises. Berkowitz said consumers are getting trapped in loans they can't pay off, and the South Carolina Legislature is considering a bill that would shut down the industry. Berkowitz has some stern advice for Georgia lawmakers: "Don't open the door. source: pliwatch.org"
Lawmakers’ Involvement Leads to Suit Brouhaha
Frustrated consumers in South Carolina have filed
suit against cash
advance lenders who allegedly extend unconscionable personal
loan products to vulnerable borrowers. They may feel that legal
action is their only option, given the fact that the state Legislature
failed completely in efforts to regulate or restrict the payday
loans this year. Now, news that some state lawmakers
have signed on to represent these consumers has sent shockwaves
through the fast cash loan industry and its lenders. Because these
are the same legislators that will reconsider prohibiting these
personal loans when the General Assembly reconvenes in January,
some have accused the thirteen lawmakers of a conflict of interest.
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