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Members of the military can lose their security clearances for falling into debt, but that doesn't stop them from borrowing from lenders who offer quick cash and high interest rates.

Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation’s military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge high annual percentage rates, sometimes exceeding 400 percent.

The Military Lending Act sought to protect service members and their families from predatory loans. But in practice, the law has defined the types of covered loans so narrowly that it’s been all too easy for lenders to circumvent it.

“We have to revisit this,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee and is the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat. “If we’re serious about protecting military families from exploitation, this law has to be a lot tighter.”

Read the rest of the story at Propublica.


Read other stories from the Marketplace and Propublica joint investigation "Beyond payday loans: Installment lending and the cycle of debt." Explore the whole series here.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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