Journalism in the Public Interest

Business & Finance, Consumer Affairs

Transcript: Installment Loans and the Shifting Debt Industry

(Erik. S. Lesser/EPA for ProPublica)

Monday, we co-published a story with Marketplace on installment loans, a growing industry that offers quick money to low-income borrowers – and is flying under regulators’ radars.

Installment loans are the cousins of payday loans. They exist in at least 19 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, and offer borrowers with poor credit easy access to money. World Finance, a billion-dollar installment loan company, has more than 800,000 customers across the U.S. World and other installment lenders often put their stores near military bases.

Yet as our story explains, installment loans can be “deceptively expensive.” Lenders often persuade borrowers to renew their loans over and over, pushing the effective annual percentage rate sky-high. If state law caps the rate, installment lenders often sell borrowers a slew of unnecessary insurance products. World says it informs borrowers in writing of the terms of its loans, that it renews loans only if its customers want to, and that it provides a valuable financial service to many satisfied customers.

So how could regulation be strengthened? How do installment lenders fit into a shifting debt industry? And what does the everyday borrower need to know if they’re considering taking out an installment loan?

Join us for a live discussion this Thursday, May 16, at 2 PM ET, with Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman and ProPublica’s Paul Kiel.

 We encourage you to leave questions in advance in the comments below. You can also tweet questions with the hashtag #BeyondPayDay. 

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