Letter | Sarah Longwell
Following restrictions that limit short-term payday lending access for borrowers, many cash-strapped Virginians are left wondering where to turn (“Shannon releases plan to protect consumers on payday lending,” Oct. 16 AFP). As payday lenders close their doors, their former customers are forced to resort to more expensive alternatives to make ends meet.
A New York Times Magazine article last year highlighted the difficulty of accessing consumer credit facing many Americans. It took a balanced look at the services offered by short-term payday lenders and found they are a valuable financial service because they offer easy-to-understand conditions with “no surprises, no hidden fees,” unlike many banks.
On the heels of the Times article came a Dartmouth College study looking at a 2007 payday lending ban in Oregon. That study concluded that banning financial options ended up hurting Oregon borrowers, and forced them to turn to inferior substitutes like bounced checks and overdraft fees.
Sarah Longwell is the director of communications for the Washington, D.C.,-based Center for Consumer Freedom.