Borrow now to party and gamble . . . responsibly

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 21, 2007

Borrow now to party and gamble . . . responsibly

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 21, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Let’s say you’re an industry with a shady reputation. And let’s say you want to keep regulators off your back. What do you do? Well, how about a little self-regulation?

The payday lending industry’s spending $10 million to polish its public image, as Nancy Marshall Genzer reports from Washington.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Critics compare payday lenders to loan sharks, who leave consumers swimming in debt. They offer cash advances with triple-digit interest rates.

But the Community Financial Services Association of America, a payday lending trade group, says now, certain borrowers will have more time to pay up. And association member Mary Jackson

says ads for what the group calls “frivolous” loans will be banned.

MARY JACKSON: When people in the industry say, “Hey, come get a loan to go gamble or go party on Friday night,” that was not a proper call to action for consumers to come in and use our service.

This is the association’s new call to action:

COMMERCIAL: We want you always to use payday advances responsibly. Payday advances are never designed to be a long-term financial solution.

But Chris Kukla

of the Center for Responsible Lending says the flowery new ad campaign offers no guarantees that irresponsible lenders will be punished.

CHRIS KUKLA: What enforcement mechanism is there? I mean, they might get in trouble with their association, but there is no real penalty to pay.

Some state legislatures have either banned payday lending or enacted penalties. But University of Florida law professor Christopher Peterson

says payday lenders have lobbied hard against more regulation.

CHRISTOPHER PETERSON: They’ve been winning for the past 15 to 20 years. But legislators are starting to see the consequences of payday lending.

But payday lenders are still raking in about $6 billion a year.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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