Every week at All Saints Church we put our faith into action. This week we are writing to our members of the United States Congress urging them to support the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act to protect consumers from predatory lenders.
The Scriptures condemn usury and teach us to respect the God-given dignity of each person and to love our neighbor rather than exploit their financial vulnerability. Simply lending is a matter of biblical morality and religious concern. In 2012, the General Convention affirmed his commitment to reforming interest rate and usury laws to prohibit predatory and abusive lending practices.
Payday loans are high-cost, low-cost loans, some of which have annual percentage rates of 300% or more. Obtaining these loans often results in a cycle of long-term debt. When borrowers roll over these loans over and over again, as often they do, they end up racking up and paying much more in fees than the amount they originally borrowed.
Predatory lending preys on individuals and families who often need loans to pay bills, keep food on the table, save for the next emergency, or support their children. Also, payday lenders have managed borrowers of color by concentrating their locations in communities of color, further exacerbating existing disparities.
After a Department of Defense report showed the devastation caused by payday loans in the military, Congress passed a bill to establish an interest rate of 36% to protect active-duty military members and their families, which has been very successful. However, once a person leaves the military, these protections disappear, leaving veterans, who apply for high-rate payday loans, even more vulnerable (see Texas Y Nevada).
Members of Congress have introduced a bill, the Fair Credit for Veterans and Consumers Act, which would apply the 36% interest rate cap granted to the military to all consumers, including veterans, to mitigate and prevent the harm caused by predatory lending practices. 20 states and the District of Columbia have successfully capped its rates at 36% or less to protect individuals and families.
However, there must be consumer protection against predatory lending throughout the country. The Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act (S.2508/HR5974) would apply the 36% interest rate cap granted to the military to all consumers, including veterans, to mitigate and prevent damage caused by predatory lending practices.
Options to take action:
- Sign an Action Letter at the Action Table outside the church on Sunday morning.
- Download a pdf copy of the Action Letter, sign it, and mail it to your members of Congress.
Here is a pdf copy of the Action Letter for those who live outside of California.
- Click this link to take action on the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) website.