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Catholic group urges tougher laws for payday loans

January 4, 2015

— A group representing Catholic bishops in Kansas wants lawmakers to approve tougher state regulators for payday lenders.

Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Catholic Conference, said the short-term, high-interest rate loans take advantage of people's desperation, The Wichita Eagle reported. He called them "bad for society," saying that many borrowers get stuck in a cycle of taking out more loans to pay back the first.

The Consumer Federation of America said the annual finance rates can be as high as 390 percent in Kansas.

Whitney Damron, a lobbyist who represents the Kansas Community Financial Services Association, said the small loans can be lifesaving and called it's misrepresentative to judge a one-month loan by a 12-month rate. He noted that people have 24 hours to back out of the loans and said adults should have the right to enter into these agreements.

"Our position has been this is a straightforward transaction. The consumer understands it's capped at $500 . and our customers are satisfied with the product," he said.

Kansas has some restrictions on payday loans. State statute caps short-term loans (seven to 30 days) at $500. It sets 15 percent as the maximum finance rate, meaning that a person will owe $15 for every $100 in loan money.

People may not have more than two loans at a time. Lenders must provide forms in both Spanish and English.

Still, Schuttloffel and others say the loans need better regulations.

Schuttloffel said his organization hasn't drafted legislation but is hopeful that lawmakers can act on changes this year. The topic got a hearing last year, but no legislation was introduced.

Rep. Louis Ruiz, D-Kansas City, an outspoken progressive, expressed interest in a bill tightening regulations on payday loans.

"I don't know where it's going to come from or who's going to bring it to the forefront, but I think there needs to be some regulation on that and also regulation on other industries that prey on people," Ruiz said, pointing to car dealers who offer loans he called predatory. "They're preying upon people who can't afford anything different."

Originally published at: http://www.baldwincity.com/news/2015/jan/04/catholic-group-urges-tougher-laws-payday-loans/