Personal Finance

People are arrested after falling behind on payday loans

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Payday Loan Store (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images)

Interim Archives

You’ll find the words in Utah’s constitution: “No imprisonment for debt.”

And yet more than 3,000 people in the state were served arrest warrants arising from an unpaid loan between September 2017 and September 2018, according to a new report on payday loans by the Consumer Federation of America.

“People are definitely going to jail,” said Christopher Peterson, director of financial services at the CFA.

Each year, 12 million Americans use short-term, high-interest rate “payday” loans. Nearly three-quarters of the borrowers have a household income below $40,000, and almost 10% are retired.

Interest rates on storefront payday loans are, on average, almost 400%. Many people find themselves in “debt-traps,” borrowing payday loan after payday loan, and forced to skip basic living expenses such as rent or health care to keep up with the payments.

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Often, they fall behind and the lender sues them in small-claims court.

According to CFA researchers’ analysis of the Utah data, almost 70% of all small-claims court hearings in the state involved high-cost lenders. The average lawsuit the researchers reviewed dragged on for 14 months.

“A lot of these people have multiple jobs and childcare obligations,” Peterson said. “They cannot afford to…



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