The 300% Loan

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The Wall Street Journal reports today that payday lenders are increasingly incorporating not in states with lax lending laws, but with American Indian tribes:

Because of the sovereign immunity granted to tribes by the U.S. government, they are shielded from interest-rate caps and other payday-loan regulations. Tribal lenders can even lend in the 12 U.S. states where lawmakers have kicked out the rest of the payday-loan industry.

….All it takes to make a deal are a willing tribe and an eager payday lender. The lender usually incorporates on tribal land, agreeing to pay the chief a salary of a few thousand dollars a month, according to people familiar with the agreements. Such payments can balloon if the tribe has relationships with more than one lender, a common practice.

Most payday lenders have no physical presence on tribal land. To go into business with a tribe, they typically start making loans in the tribe’s name from the lender’s existing call center, according to industry consultants.

In October, Peg Calvird of Suffolk, Va., got a payday loan for $600 from American Web Loan Inc….The loan’s interest rate was 300%, far above Virginia’s legal limit of 36%.

For now, I’ll assume that credit card companies can’t do this, since if they could they already would have. Let’s just hope that the financial reform law didn’t accidentally open up a loophole that makes it possible.

But here’s a serious question: if you take out a payday loan from one of these guys, and then fail to pay it back, what can they do to you? I suppose they can still wreck your credit rating, but what else? Aside from harassment, what enforcement mechanism is available to them to get their money back?

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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