The Kentucky Consumer Advisory Council held the first of three public forums on payday lending Wednesday in Louisville. The forums come after repeated calls for more regulation on the payday loan industry.
Payday loans are short-term high-interest cash advances. Because the loans are meant to be paid back quickly, lenders say the interest rates do not compare to the lower rates on long-term bank loans. But Lisa Gabbard with the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending says the rates are too high, and borrowers are often trapped under back-to-back loans.
Gabbard says the interest rates should be capped at the equivalent of 36 percent annual interest. That’s the maximum rate lenders can currently give on loans to members of the military.
“We’ve been accused of trying to put a business out of commission and that’s not at all the case,” she says. “In fact, one of our members of KCRL visited For Knox, which of course is a military community, and found nine payday lenders in operation. So clearly they can operate and make money at 36%”
Todd Leatherman directs the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. He says the council may call for more regulation on payday loans after the forums.
“This is a council that is interested in the industry, interested in hearing the entire story,” he says. “So we hope to provide a forum where all of the information can be obtained.”
The council will hold forums in Lexington and Newport in the next few weeks.