Critics Blame Cycle of Debt on Predatory Pay Day Loans - NBC Southern California
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Critics Blame Cycle of Debt on Predatory Pay Day Loans

Advocates are letting pay day loan applicants know the dangers of high interest rates and the impact of debt on their credit scores

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    People struggling financially in urban communities everywhere keep getting loans to repay their loans, accumulating a massive cycle of debt. Randy Mac reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (Published Friday, Oct. 10, 2014)

    Most people are familiar with the phrase living check to check.

    Well, how about living loan to loan?

    It's happening in urban communities everywhere -- a cycle of debt repeating itself due to what critics call predatory pay day loans.

    A pay day loan is money to get by with, get your car fixed, pay a medical bill. The problem is that the interest rates for these loans can be almost 460 percent.

    The people getting them are struggling financially, so they keep getting them, loans to pay loans, accumulating debt they can never repay.

    Deidra Winder, said she has too many pay day loans to count. For her, debt is just another four-letter word and it won't stop her from seeking another pay day loan.

    "I haven't paid it and I don't intend on paying it," she said. "I can't afford to pay it back. By the time I get paid it's time to pay more bills. So how am I going to pay them and the bill collectors?"

    Winder is living in what experts call a debt cycle -- renewing multiple pay day loans, at interest rates so high, a loan for a couple of weeks could take a couple of years to pay off.

    Some of Los Angeles' best minds -- attorneys, politicians, many Americans -- have turned to borrowing. Consumer advocacy groups are sounding alarms on what they're calling predatory pay day loans.

    "The shame is that most of those loans are legal," said Hernan Vera, the president and CEO of Public Counsel, a pro bono law firm. "There is very little that we, as attorneys, can do about it."

    The group's campaign is about awareness, letting pay day loan applicants know the dangers of high interest rates and the impact of debt on their credit scores.

    It happens because there is a need in many communities for short-term credit.

    Winder says she works as a desk clerk, earning just enough to not qualify for government assistance. She supplements her income with pay day loans.

    "It's stressful," Winder said. "It's very stressful living from check to check."

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