Bank Payday Lending: A Debt-Trap Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Bank Payday Lending: A Debt-Trap Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

First Nations Development Institute has joined a national effort to actively oppose “bank payday lending” by established banks and financial institutions. First Nations believes this new practice by large, respected companies will undermine the hard-fought gains made in Native American and military communities and others to curb predatory lending practices that particularly prey on low-income people.

According to Diane Standaert of the Center for Responsible Lending, five large banks are now making unaffordable, high-cost payday loans, typically calling them “direct deposit advances” or “checking account advances."  The banks are Wells Fargo, Regions, US Bank, Guaranty Bank, and Fifth Third.  She said that with their high fees and a single balloon-payment taken out of a customer’s next direct deposit, these loans create the same debt trap as expensive payday loans made from strip-mall storefront lenders.  They may also trigger additional charges such as overdraft fees, and can contribute to the increased likelihood of bankruptcy, late credit card and bill payments, delayed medical care, and even loss of basic banking privileges because of repeated overdrafts.

federal reserveFirst Nations has joined the Center for Responsible Lending and a wide range of 250 national, state and local organizations – including consumer advocates, civil rights organizations, faith-based groups and social service agencies – to oppose the practice.  They are asking U.S. bank regulators in Washington, D.C., including the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to take immediate action to stop banks from making such loans.

"The very structure of a bank payday loan makes it likely to trap customers in long-term debt even while the bank claims that the loans are meant for short-term use," noted Rebecca Borne, senior policy analyst at the center.

"We recognize the need for emergency credit," Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said recently. "At the same time, it is important that these products actually help consumers, rather than harm them."

Combating predatory lending has long been part of the mission of First Nations because it has a tremendously negative impact on Native communities. It is devastating because it destroys the potential for asset building that is critically needed to bring economic security to Indian families and communities. First Nations’ research has shown that predatory lending is stripping money from low-income tribal citizens, especially those who are unbanked or underbanked.

You can support this effort by signing on as an individual, company or organization by contacting Diane at the Center for Responsible Lending at dianes@responsiblelending.org.  And you can support First Nations in its mission by giving generously online or by mail.