Payday Loan Debt Trap Tracker Counts Dollars Lost to Predatory Lenders

By Equal Voice Action | September 13, 2019

Image: #StopTheDebtTrap

In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) passed landmark consumer protections for payday and car-title loans.

Vital to these research-backed regulations is the ability-to-pay rule. This rule would require short-term lenders to verify that borrowers can realistically repay their loans, without sacrificing their ability to make ends meet, and without needing to immediately take out another loan. 

Sounds reasonable, right? Indeed, this common-sense rule would bring much-needed relief to payday loan borrowers who are exposed to the ruinous cycle of borrowing, and then borrowing again and again, to cover the rapidly multiplying costs of these extremely high-interest loans.

As we have shared before, in just one example, a young mother who borrowed $400 for emergency medical treatment for her infant daughter estimated that she had paid more than $10,000 toward the loan—and was still in debt, with severely damaged credit.

This debt trap cycle is in fact not the exception but the rule for these types of loans, as the CFPB’s own research shows that more than four out of five payday loans are re-borrowed within a month.

In what would have been a milestone for U.S. consumer protections, the ability-to-pay rule was supposed to go into effect on August 19, 2019.

Yet, under new leadership under the Trump administration, the CFPB has delayed the implementation of this rule while pushing to gut its core protections.

In doing so, the CFPB has sided with predatory lenders while neglecting its own research on the devastating impact of payday loans, which prey, in particular, on borrowers in poor and low-income communities.

To measure the financial impact of this giveaway to the payday loan industry, the #StopTheDebtTrap coalition has shared a Payday Loan Debt Trap Tracker, counting the massive and rapidly growing sum that borrowers have lost to payday lenders since the rule was supposed to take effect.

The hundreds of millions of dollars—and counting—captured here reflect the financial cost to borrowers. But we know the impact is much greater, with serious consequences on the health, livelihoods, and survival of affected individuals and families.

As we continue to advocate for fair lending protections for all families, we invite members and allies to visit StopTheDebtTrap.org for a host of resources in speaking out against predatory lending.

Our families need fair and reasonable access to credit—not predatory loans that rob our wealth rather than help us grow it.


#StopTheDebtTrap is a coalition of 800 civil rights, consumer, labor, faith, veterans, seniors and community organizations from all 50 states who oppose the CFPB’s effort to repeal the current rule on payday lending. 

Additional resources:

Call to Action: Submit Public Comment on Payday Loans Rule

Equal Voice Action Continues Advocacy Push to Protect Fair Lending Regulations

Equal Voice Action Defends National Payday Loan Regulations on Capitol Hill

Equal Voice Action Joins Advocacy Effort to Protect Families from Predatory Lending

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