Research Shows the Majority of Payday Loans Are Made to Borrowers Caught in a Revolving Door of Debt
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a report on payday lending finding that four out of five payday loans are rolled over or renewed within 14 days. The study also shows that the majority of all payday loans are made to borrowers who renew their loans so many times that they end up paying more in fees than the amount of money they originally borrowed.
“We are concerned that too many borrowers slide into the debt traps that payday loans can become,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “As we work to bring needed reforms to the payday market, we want to ensure consumers have access to small-dollar loans that help them get ahead, not push them farther behind.”
The report is at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201403_cfpb_report_payday-lending.pdf
Payday loans are typically described as a way to bridge a cash flow shortage between paychecks or other income. Also known as “cash advances” or “check loans,” they are usually expensive, small-dollar loans, of generally $500 or less. They can offer quick and easy accessibility, especially for consumers who may not qualify for other credit.
Today’s report is based on data from a 12-month period with more than 12 million storefront payday loans. It is a continuation of the work in last year’s CFPB report on Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products, one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken on the market. That report raised questions about the loose lending standards, high costs, and risky loan structures that may contribute to the sustained use of these products.
Today’s report provides a deeper analysis of the data, focusing on repeated borrowing by consumers after they take out an initial payday loan. A primary driver of the cost of payday loans is that consumers may roll over the loans or engage in re-borrowing within a short window of time after repaying their first loan. Today’s study looks at not only the initial loans but also loans taken out within 14 days of paying off the old loans; it considers these subsequent loans to be renewals and part of the same “loan sequence.” Today’s study is the most in-depth analysis of this pattern to date.
Key Findings: Many Payday Loans Become Revolving Doors of Debt
By focusing on payday loan renewals, the study found that a large share of consumers end up in cycles of repeated borrowing and incur significant costs over time. Specifically, the study found:
- Four out of five payday loans are rolled over or renewed: More than 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or renewed within two weeks. The study found that when looking at 14-day windows in the states that have cooling-off periods that reduce the level of same-day renewals, the renewal rates are nearly identical to states without these limitations.
- Three out of five payday loans are made to borrowers whose fee expenses exceed amount borrowed: Over 60 percent of loans are made to borrowers in the course of loan sequences lasting seven or more loans in a row. Roughly half of all loans are made to borrowers in the course of loan sequences lasting ten or more loans in a row.
- One out of five new payday loans end up costing the borrower more than the amount borrowed: For 48 percent of all initial payday loans – those that are not taken out within 14 days of a prior loan – borrowers are able to repay the loan with no more than one renewal. But for 22 percent of new loans, borrowers end up renewing their loans six times or more. With a typical payday fee of 15 percent, consumers who take out an initial loan and six renewals will have paid more in fees than the original loan amount.
- Four out of five payday borrowers either default or renew a payday loan over the course of a year: Only 15 percent of borrowers repay all of their payday debts when due without re-borrowing within 14 days; 20 percent default on a loan at some point; and 64 percent renew at least one loan one or more times. Defaulting on a payday loan may cause the consumer to incur bank fees. Renewing loans repeatedly can put consumers on a slippery slope toward a debt trap where they cannot get ahead of the money they owe.
- Four out of five payday borrowers who renew end up borrowing the same amount or more: Specifically, more than 80 percent of borrowers who rolled over loans owed as much or more on the last loan in a loan sequence than the amount they borrowed initially. These consumers are having trouble getting ahead of the debt. The study also found that as the number of rollovers increases, so too does the percentage of borrowers who increase their borrowing.
- One out of five payday borrowers on monthly benefits trapped in debt: The study also looked at payday borrowers who are paid on a monthly basis and found one out of five remained in debt the entire year of the CFPB study. Payday borrowers who fall into this category include elderly Americans or disability recipients receiving Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability.
Today’s report will help educate regulators and the public about how the payday lending market works and about the behavior of borrowers in the market. The CFPB has authority to oversee the payday loan market. It began its supervision of payday lenders in January 2012. In November 2013, the CFPB began accepting complaints from borrowers encountering problems with payday loans.
Cash America to Refund up to $14 Million for Robo-Signing and Illegally Overcharging Servicemembers
Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today took its first enforcement action against a payday lender by ordering Cash America International, Inc. to refund consumers for robo-signing court documents in debt collection lawsuits. The CFPB also found that Cash America – one of the largest short-term, small-dollar lenders in the country – violated the Military Lending Act by illegally overcharging servicemembers and their families. Cash America will pay up to $14 million in refunds to consumers and it will pay a $5 million fine for these violations and for destroying records in advance of the Bureau’s examination.
“This action brings justice to the Cash America customers who were affected by illegal robo-signing, and shows that we will vigilantly protect the consumer rights that servicemembers have earned,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are also sending a clear message today to all companies under our watch that impeding a CFPB exam by destroying documents, withholding records, and instructing employees to mislead examiners is unacceptable.”
Payday loans are often described as a way for consumers to bridge a cash flow shortage between paychecks or the receipt of other income. They can offer quick access to credit, especially for consumers who may not qualify for other credit. Many payday loans are for small-dollar amounts that must be repaid in full in a short period of time.
Cash America is a publicly traded financial services company headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas that provides consumer financial products and services, including payday loans, lines of credit, installment loans, and pawn loans. With hundreds of retail locations across more than 20 states, it is one of the largest payday lending companies in the United States. Cash America’s Chicago-based subsidiary, Enova, offers online loans in 32 states under the brand name CashNetUSA.
Today’s action is the Bureau’s first public enforcement action against a payday lender; its first public action under the Military Lending Act; and the first public action for a company’s failure to comply fully with the CFPB’s supervisory examination authority.
After a routine CFPB examination of Cash America’s operations, the CFPB found multiple violations of consumer financial protection laws, including:
- Robo-signing: Robo-signing generally refers to a practice where important documents that require careful review and a signature from a knowledgeable individual are instead signed by someone else, a machine, or by someone who does not follow appropriate procedures. Robo-signing can result in inaccurate court affidavits and pleadings, which may cause consumers to pay false debts, incorrect debts, or legal costs and court fees. For nearly five years, Cash America’s debt collection subsidiary in Ohio, Cashland Financial Services, Inc., had been preparing, executing, and notarizing documents filed in its Ohio collections litigations without complying with state and court-required signature rules. The CFPB estimates that about 14,000 consumers paid money as a result of debt collection litigation which may have involved reliance on improper court filings. Specifically:
- Employees manually stamped attorney signatures on legal pleadings, and department manager signatures on balance-due and military-status affidavits, without prior review; and
- Legal assistants notarized documents without following proper procedures.
- Illegally overcharged servicemembers: Cash America violated the Military Lending Act, which restricts the rate on certain types of loans given to servicemembers to 36 percent. Cash America extended payday loans exceeding that rate to more than 300 active-duty servicemembers or dependents.
- Impeded the CFPB exam: During a routine examination of Cash America that began in July 2012, the company, among other things, carelessly destroyed records relevant to the Bureau’s onsite compliance examination. Specifically, Cash America’s online lending subsidiary, Enova Financial:
- Instructed employees to limit the information they provided to the CFPB about their sales and marketing pitches;
- Deleted recorded phone calls with consumers; and
- Continued to shred documents after the CFPB told them to halt such activities.
- In addition, Cash America withheld an internal audit report related to collection practices.
Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against institutions for violations of federal consumer financial protection laws. To ensure that all impacted consumers are repaid and that consumers are no longer subject to these illegal practices, Cash America has committed to:
- Refund consumers: Cash America has already voluntarily paid back roughly $6 million to military borrowers and victims of the robo-signing practices. Through today’s CFPB order, they have committed to offer an additional $8 million to consumers, for a total refund of up to $14 million. Consumers who were subject to debt collection lawsuits in the state of Ohio from 2008 through January 2013 are eligible. More information is available at: www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/our-first-enforcement-action-against-a-payday-lender
- Dismiss pending collections lawsuits: Within months of the CFPB discovering the robo-signing, Cash America dismissed pending collections lawsuits, terminated all post-judgment collections activities, cancelled all judgments obtained, and corrected information it furnished to credit bureaus for the nearly 14,000 wrongful cases filed in Ohio.
- Pay a $5 million fine: Cash America will pay a $5 million civil money penalty in connection with these serious violations. Cash America’s preemptive refunds to consumers and other actions after the Bureau discovered the conduct were considered when determining the civil money penalty amount.
- Improve internal compliance systems: Cash America will develop and implement a comprehensive plan to improve its compliance with consumer financial protection laws, including the Military Lending Act.
The CFPB has authority to oversee the payday loan market and began its supervision of payday lenders in January 2012. In addition, the CFPB has taken a number of steps to learn more about the marketplace for payday loans, and released a report on payday loans earlier this year. That report found that payday products can lead to a cycle of indebtedness for many consumers. In early November, the CFPB began accepting consumer complaints about payday loans. More information is available at: www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/you-can-submit-a-payday-loan-complaint/
The full text of the CFPB’s Consent Order is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201311_cfpb_cashamerica_consent-order.pdf