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Despite Reforms, Payday Lenders Continue High-Interest Loans

This is one of our editors' picks from our ongoing roundup of Investigations Elsewhere.

In recent years, states like New Mexico, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona reformed payday lending practices, but, as The Washington Independent reports today, many of the major lenders are using loopholes to charge annual interest rates as high as 680 percent.

There’s a variety of ways to get around reform legislation, the Independent found:

"Lenders issue loans in the form of a check, then charge the borrower to cash it. They roll into the loan a $10 credit investigation fee—then never do a credit check. Or they simply change lending licenses and transform themselves into car title companies, or small installment loan firms, while still making payday loans."

In Ohio, after voters upheld capping interest rates at 28 percent in 2008, lenders started to operate under small loan laws, originally designed to provide the legal framework for installment loans, not one-off payday-style ones. Simultaneously, lenders are pushing back against the reform laws and attempts to close their loopholes. One consumer advocate told the Independent that, as a result, the situation in Ohio marked "the first time where the payday lending debate seems to have started over entirely."

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