Nixon Hopes to Restrict Payday Loans
Marylyn Defeo, volunteering executive director of the Samaritan Center, helped start the center 19 years ago to help those with low incomes get a number of services such as food, tax help and dental care. The center, however, can't always help people with their debt.
"They are so terrified, that they just don't know what to do next. They just hope that I have the answer; that I can help them out," Defeo said.
People in financial trouble often turn to payday loan companies, but high interest rates and fees quickly add up, making it difficult to pay off the loans.
Attorney General Jay Nixon wants to be sure Missouri residents do not overpay.
"The bottom line is this is an industry that is growing, and it's growing on the backs of those most in need," Nixon said.
Nixon supports legislation that would limit payday interest rates to a 36 percent annual percentage rate and prohibit renewal of loans that avoid rate restrictions. The legislation would also give his office power to issue cease-and-desist orders and sue for injunctions and civil penalties. Nixon also wants to make sure limitations apply to all lenders, even those that are unlicensed.
As for Defeo, her words of wisdom for those in financial trouble are simple.
"My advice would be come see us before you go to the payday loan person. We can probably help you with the small amount that you're needing," Defeo said.
Nixon said there is support for the legislation in both the Missouri House and Senate.
Congress recently passed legislation protecting similar lending practices for the military.