“Loan-Sharking” equates to usury, which is charging interest above an established legal rate. “Pay Advance”, “Check Advance”, “Deferred Deposit”, “Payday Loan”, or any other label like it is lower than loan-sharking. It is a legal, multi-billion dollar industry that you do not want to get lured into.
As a young military in Korea years ago, I remember none of us had much money. Gambling and “other pastimes” took the little we had before month’s end– but there were always the “friendly”, black-market loan sharks offering 50% interest loans very close by. Guess who was also 5 feet away from the pay station on pay day… the Korean version of Don Corleone, of course.ソフト闇金
It has not changed much over the years or location or title. The Payday or cash advance lender still preys on the financially struggling individual. The pay back still revolves around payday. The rates are still exorbitant. What has changed is that it is now legal, the “APR” exceeds 350%, and the client is not restricted to the military. The prey are now thousands of struggling, hard working folks who are having a tough time making it to the end of the month. Many toil on very low paying jobs, have serious medical debt, gambling addictions or worse. But they all are collecting pay stubs and maintain a checking account.
So the hard working, debt-burdened consumer sees a warm, friendly, office with an innocent name such as Pay Advance. “Is this an opportunity or what?” Sure it is… for the lender. Here’s a scenario from real life copied from e-mail sent to me.
“I owe nine check advance companies (companies that will let you write a check for cash with a fee included) a total of $3000. I also have approximately 15 checks I have bounced as a result of trying to pay off these check advance companies. The total amount due of all the checks with fees is approximately $1500. I have people calling me all the time and they are also calling my boss at work. They tell me I can not make partial payments on my checks and almost all of them want their money within ten days or they will turn it over to the county courts office.”
Check advance operations are springing up across the nation and may be one of the fastest growing industries we have. The former owners of Blockbuster Videos sold their successful corporation to reinvest in their first pay advance operation. That was 3 years ago. There are now 1500 offices and that is just one conglomerate. Business growth like this does not occur without phenomenal profit potential. I would consider a 200%, 300%, or 400% APR a sizable potential profit, wouldn’t you?
But another e-mail referred to an article in a Memphis newspaper. The author of the article queried one of the owners/managers of a check advance business and pointed out that high fees [$20 for 7 days on $300] worked out to be a 360% APR. The payday loan owner said, “It did not matter what the yearly rate was if you only needed the loan for a short period of time.”
The owner is right- or is he? We have already addressed the fact that the tendency is to use such a system again and again. If I pay a loan back and then take out another, and then another, and then another, I bet I can make a strong case for 360% APR.
It is a fee. The Glossary of Political Economy Terms from Auburn University defines Interest rate as “The price(s) of obtaining the temporary use of money that one borrows from someone else who actually owns it, normally expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed per year.” A fee, on the other hand, is “a charge for services rendered”.
Therefore, it is not an “excessive APR” because it’s a fee and any comparison to usury is comparing apples and oranges. So how could it possibly be loan-sharking? DUH. What is wrong with me. But here is another little tidbit. Collectors cannot take partial payment for advance check pay back because advance pay is not considered a loan. Advance check operations fall under non-sufficient fund (NSF) laws, which means they can demand the local district attorney’s office to act as their collection agency.