Cincinnati Enquirer – 1/2/2020 (reprinted)
COLUMBUS – Fighting unscrupulous payday lenders has been the Ohio politics version of whack-a-mole for years.
Voters passed restrictions in 2008, but the industry circumvented them. Ohio lawmakers tried to rein in astronomical interest rates and businesses battled back. The quarrel even ensnared former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, leading him to resign over questionable travel with payday lending lobbyists.
In late April, a new law took effect to limit how much payday lenders can loan customers and how much they can charge in interest and fees.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that some bad actors – many of them online – are finding ways to charge sky-high interest rates and fees on loans approved after Ohio’s new law took effect.
Skirting the rules
The Enquirer reviewed 15 complaints filed with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office about loans issued after April 27.
In one complaint, a Bond Hill woman said she took out an $800 loan in early May. Under the new law, the most she should have paid in fees and interest was $480 – 60 percent of the initial loan amount. But the online tribal lender, which isn’t registered in Ohio, was demanding $3,000.
In another complaint, a Columbus-area woman said she received an online loan in August for $700. So far, she has paid back nearly $790, but the company is asking for more than $1,000 in addition to what she’s already paid.
“When she tries to contact the company, she waits on hold for 40 minutes,” according to the complaint. “Then they kick her off, and they ask her to send an email.”
Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, who championed the payday lending changes, said he received a disturbing call from his local clerk of court’s office, saying an elderly couple was seeking a power of attorney form to send their vehicle’s title to California to secure a loan in Ohio.
Changes in the Ohio law should prevent borrowers from using their vehicles’ registration as collateral for loans.
“That’s very disappointing,” Koehler told The Enquirer. “Going to this extent to prey on an elderly couple.”
The attorney general’s office hasn’t…