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INDICATORS

The Next Payday

Indicators: June 23

June 23, 2010, 12:00 am
By Corey Pein
65 debt collections claims have been filed by Your Credit Inc. against its customers in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court so far this year.
75% of those debtors had Hispanic surnames, well above the 50 percent of the county population that identifies as Hispanic.

Your Credit Inc. President AP Gentry owns this $2 million mansion in San Antonio, Texas:



On March 26, the state Financial Institutions Division lifted a moratorium on new payday lending licenses. The hold had been in effect since 2006, prior to the passage of a law tightening regulations on those businesses.

FID regulates approximately 600 “small loan companies” statewide, including 134 licensed payday lenders as of the end of May. Nearly half of those outfits reported no transactions last month, suggesting that demand for quick-cash, high-interest loans may have shifted to other, less-regulated financial products.

FID Director Bill Verant tells SFR that given the dearth of options for people who need a few hundred bucks, payday loans remain “the best bargain on micro loans.”

So far this year, an FID report shows, 8,186 people took out payday loans worth $11.4 million, and paid advance fees of $1.7 million. The average transaction has an annualized interest rate of 356 percent, with a $57 fee for a $374 cash advance.

Santa Fe is home to at least 17 small loan companies. These lenders systematically suck money out of the poorest neighborhoods, even if regulators are tracking fewer complaints about payday loans in particular.

A 2005 study by the Nevada Fair Housing Center found that Your Credit Inc. targeted low-income minority neighborhoods, and charged customers an average of $151 in fees on a $100 “installment” loan. Company President AP Gentry isn’t the only one to make it big wringing pennies from the poor.

Personal Credit Plan, a small loan shop on Airport Road, is ultimately owned by Aegon, a financial and insurance group based in the Netherlands with profits of approximately $253 million last year.

 

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