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The Voice of the Black Community

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N.C. payday loans scrapped
Regions Bank pulls plug after consumer criticism
 
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:22 pm
by Herbert L. White

Payday lending is again a relic of the past in North Carolina.


Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Financial Corp. pulled the plug on its Ready Advance loans last week after sharp criticism from a consumer coalition that steep interest rates trap low-income borrowers in a cycle of debt.


N.C. law bans payday loan shops or Internet services, but federal law allows banks to make loans based on laws in their home state.


“This is a victory for all North Carolina consumers,” said Jeff Shaw of the Raleigh-based North Carolina Justice Center. “Especially in the wake of the bad lending that led to the financial crisis, banks should understand that the last thing we need is destructive loans that drag cash-strapped families down even further.”


Regions is the nation’s 15th-largest bank with $121.3 billion in assets as of June 30.


Ready Advance customers were required to pay back loans – with a credit limit of $500 – within 10 days using a bank account with direct deposit. Regions charges $1 in fees for every $10 advanced and the entire balance is repaid upon the next direct deposit. Overdraft fees would also apply.


“The people of North Carolina and the North Carolina legislature have consistently said they do not want payday lending in our borders,” said Chris Kukla, senior vice president at the Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending.


“We’re glad that Regions Bank has decided to stop thumbing its nose at our North Carolina laws and has dropped this product in our state.
An N.C. law passed in 2001 effectively shut down payday lenders, with the last of those businesses closing shop in 2006, but Regions used a federal loophole that allows banks to ignore N.C. laws because of its Alabama charter. A survey by Pew Charitable Trusts found African Americans are more than twice as likely to use payday loans compared to other ethnic groups. Nearly a quarter of payday borrowers are seniors whose primary source of income is Social Security.


In addition to CRL, the N.C. NAACP, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Legislative Black Caucus and AFL-CIO pushed to end payday loans.

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