I am in the social-work program at Virginia Commonwealth University. I recently joined 15 other individuals from the Richmond area to rally on Lombardy Street outside a payday-lending facility. This action was part of a statewide effort to put an end to predatory-lending practices.
All of us presented signs and our voices to the passing vehicles and pedestrian traffic to raise awareness on the destruction that these companies’ open-end loan products are causing. Because payday lenders do not have to acknowledge regulations that larger loan companies are subject to, people are being taken advantage of with 360 percent interest rates, membership fees, and unethical business tactics. Most recently some companies have begun offering open-end loans by exploiting a loophole in the law.
When Virginians have requested legislative changes to protect themselves in the past, these companies figured out how to reinvent their overall image and offer new (harmful) products to the public. Because of the unchecked interest rates, people who borrow money are likely to be unable to cover the initial amount borrowed as well as interest with their future paychecks. This allows the payday and car-title-lending companies to trap Virginians and bury them in debt.
People borrow because they are in tough financial situations and are fooled by the images these companies project of themselves as majestic financial knights. They are in fact far from being knightly in their villainous endeavors.
Please, fellow Commonwealth residents, help close the loophole in the law that allows such exploitation by contacting your state legislators and sharing what you know.
As one of our posters read: don’t let predatory lenders romance you!
– Letter from Ranna Zirakparvar, Richmond