May 8, 2018

OHIO: Payday lending debate continues in Ohio: What both sides are saying

A leader of the Ohio payday lending industry says a bill co-sponsored by a Springfield lawmaker that would change how the industry is operated in the state is bad for Ohioans and the state's industry.

However, State Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield), said his bill aims to put more regulation on the industry and will serve to protect Ohioans from what he calls outrageous fees and rates.

Ted Saunders, CEO of the company that owns CheckSmart and president of the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association, told this news organization that Koehler's bill, passed by the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee and expected to go to the House floor for a vote this month, would lead to devastating outcomes for the lending industry and consumers who rely on its services.

"We have more than half the state living paycheck to paycheck, and Springfield specifically is below the average line in Ohio," Saunders said. "The demand for consumer lending is very, very high and I think we can deliver it in a very safe and regulated way." Read more at SPRINGFIELD NEWS SUN
Payday Loans Not Just a Poor Person's Issue. University of Georgia

Researchers find that borrowers exist in all tax brackets

Athens, Ga. - A team of researchers led by faculty at the University of Georgia found that payday loan borrowers often come from middle- and higher-income households, not just poor or lower-earning populations.

Mary Caplan, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at UGA, led a study that analyzed a nationally representative dataset from the Federal Reserve Board's 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances.

The survey was administered among 6,015 U.S. households, and it includes information aboutincome, pension, spending, debt and the use of financial services.

Borrowers can take out these loans online or in person with companies advertising small dollar and quick cash loans, but the interest rates tend to be high.

"There's this idea that payday loans are specifically used by people who are poor," Caplan said. "I wanted to find out whether or not that's true."

The study grouped borrowers into five income-based quintiles and found that there are payday loan borrowers in low-, middle- and high-income households. Read more at UNIVERSITY of GEORGIA
LOUISIANA: Bill to expand payday loan industry passes Louisiana Senate

A bill that would expand the payday loan industry has passed the Senate.

Louisiana Sen. Rick Ward, III, R-Port Allen, wrote the proposed legislation: Senate Bill 365, or the Louisiana Credit Access Loan Act.

Payday loans today are capped at $350 for terms of 60 days or fewer. The bill would expand them to allow payday loans between $500-$875 for terms of three to 12 months.

"What this bill really does is expands an industry that really should be contracted," said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project that advocates for low- and middle-income households.

Moller said that almost nine in 10 payday borrowers take out new loans within two weeks of paying one off. That can lock people into a debt cycle, and with all fees and interest considered, they can pay annual interest rates that amount to as much as 700 percent.

In the proposed expansion, annual interest rates on these longer-term loans could still top 160 percent, Moller said.

The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday with a 20-17 vote. Read more at KATC.COM
Employment Skip Tracing
Business Credentialing. by Philip Burgess
Our abundant business credentialing products give you the tools you need to thoroughly vet anyone you might do business with

As the Harvard Business Review noted, many business leaders mistakenly view risk as a positive concept. They see it as a sign of good entrepreneurship, but the truth is great leaders aren't risk takers, they're risk managers. Effectively reducing risk requires a lot of information and resources, however, and many of these are hard for you to acquire on your own. That's where MicroBilt's business credentialing services come in. We provide historical and predictive data alongside verification tools to help you compete in your industry and make strong partnership decisions.

Who needs a business credentialing service?
Business leaders in all industries need to routinely evaluate their organizations against their peers, comparing performance, finances and overall health. Similarly, they must remain up to date on ever-shifting markets. The slightest disruption can cause a major change in a business' stability. Without this information, leaders are more likely to make risky, ill-advised decisions that compromise their competitiveness.

Even from the start, executives and entrepreneurs need business valuation reports to help them develop budgets and business plans. In addition, the information they uncover about potential vendors and clients allows them to make more strategic business decisions. These reports uncover important information applicants might not disclose, showing business leaders who to work with and who to avoid. Read more at MICROBILT
National Debt Holdings
Nearly 90% of companies pay employees to participate in wellness programs

In addition, 67% of employers intend to offer well-being programs not focused on physical health in coming years. Areas of expansion include emotional health (92%), financial wellness (90%), stress management (77%), community involvement (72%) and social connectedness (60%).

"More employers are viewing holistic well-being as an integral part of their overall workforce strategy," Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH, said in a statement. "The goal is to create a competitive advantage by deploying the healthiest, most productive, engaged and competitive workforce possible to boost business performance and empower great people and communities."

The findings reflect growing employer interest in a hands-on approach to employee health.

In fact, with healthcare costs continuing to rise, some employers are skirting traditional insurance plans and contracting directly with providers. According to a recent Willis Tower Watson survey, while just 6% of employers currently work directly with providers, 22% are considering the approach for 2019. Read more at HEALTHCARE DIVE
NEVADA: Audit finds nearly a third of Nevada payday lenders violated rules over last five years

A new audit report has found that nearly a third of Nevada payday lenders have received a less-than-satisfactory rating from state regulators over the last five years.

A performance audit of the Division of Financial Institutions, the state agency charged with overseeing and regulating high-interest, short-term lenders, released Wednesday found that a significant percentage of so-called "payday" lenders run afoul of state laws and regulations every year.

George Burns, who heads the financial institutions office, told lawmakers on Wednesday that the number of violations was "relatively" small compared to the total number of loans issued, but that any number of problematic loans was still an issue.

"It is a major problem for those people that are affected," he said.

The division regulates more than 2,666 licensees, which includes banks, credit unions, trust companies and the broad umbrella of "Non-Depository Institutions." That category, which is often referred to under the umbrella term of "payday lenders," includes check-cashing or deferred-deposit businesses, and any title loan or high-interest lender. Read more at THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT
A_S Management
Should you tell your employer about your financial troubles?

Some workers may tempted to tell their co-workers if they feel bogged down by credit card debt, student or home loans, or unexpected expenses. But should you let your boss(es) know?

In October 2017, Mary Griffin, a loan coordinator in Atlanta, Ga., was in a bind. Her car broke down and she didn't have money to fix it or buy a new one. Griffin, 57, took rides from co-workers and the occasional Uber to get to and from work.

Although she didn't tell management at her company that she was struggling, a co-worker did. When company leaders learned of Griffin's circumstances, they bought her a car. The moment her bosses handed her the keys to a 2011 Ford Fiesta was "overwhelming, almost surreal," she said.

"To be in an environment where there's genuine care and concern - and being the recipient of that - let me know that I matter in the company," Griffin said. "Having that emotional and financial relief takes all that weight and burden off me, so in return I can focus more positively and with more energy to my work and to my family."

Some workers may tempted to tell their co-workers if they feel bogged down by credit card debt, student or home loans, or unexpected expenses. But should you let your boss(es) know?

Financial concerns can impact work performance, according to a 2017 employee financial wellness survey by Pricewaterhousecoopers LLC. Employees who are stressed about their finances are nearly five times more likely to be distracted at work, and are twice as likely to miss work. Financial stress also causes employees to spend more time at work dealing with finances, cutting into their time. The PwC study finds that 46 percent spend three or more hours a week handling personal issues when they should be working. Read more at WFMY2
Dreher Tomkies LLP
CANADA: Toronto is latest Canadian city to crack down on payday lending outlets

The interim regulations include new licensing requirements and capping the number of store locations

Canada's largest city is the latest of a host of municipalities to crack down on payday lenders with bylaws to impose restrictions on their business activities and rein in the number of physical locations.

Toronto City Council adopted new interim regulations last week that cap the number of physical locations allowed across the city and require operators to be licensed. That permit will cost lenders an initial $633, plus $309 to renew it annually.

The number of payday licences will be capped at 212, which matches the number of provincially-licensed locations already operating in the city as of May 1, according to Toronto's municipal licensing and standards department.

Payday lenders are often a last resort for borrowers who would be otherwise be rejected for a traditional bank loan. The crackdown is in addition to new regulations handed down by the province.

The Ontario government decreased the cost of a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 in 2017 and dropped it again to $15 this year. Read more at CBC
Postal Service banking system possible if past pitfalls avoided

Depending on who you ask, payday lending is either the market's way of providing small loans to borrowers who do not have sufficient credit to get them through established and regulated financial institutions, or predatory lending that takes advantage of consumers that have no alternative. If you ask us, it is both, which is why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) proposed Postal Banking Act is so promising.

The law would mandate that the United States Postal Service (USPS) offer low-cost retail banking services through its 30,000 nationwide branches. If properly implemented, this would expand banking access to many low-income and rural families, improving their financial well-being, while also helping to shore up the USPS's finances.

As of 2015, about 7 percent of U.S. households were "unbanked," meaning that no one in the household had a checking or savings account. An additional 20 percent of households were "underbanked," meaning that they relied, at least in part, on payday lenders, check cashing services, pawn shop loans, or other non-traditional sources for financial services. Read more at THE HILL
Consumer Confidential: White House-backed bill purports to strengthen consumer protection. It does the opposite

The White House Office of Management and Budget recently declared its support for legislation called the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. The bill has been passed by the Senate and is expected to be approved by the House in coming weeks.

"The administration is committed to consumer protection and ensuring that consumers have the tools needed to manage their finances in the manner that best suits their own personal needs and financial goals," the OMB said.

Good news, right?

Maybe not.

The OMB is run by Mick Mulvaney, who also serves as President Trump's interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In that capacity, he has shown himself to be committed to rolling back consumer protections and favoring business interests - with the president's blessing.

This new bill, while touted as enhancing consumer rights, in reality would leave many people with fewer safeguards. Read more at MIAMI HERALD
Advance Financial
Because volunteering is so important to our culture here at Advance Financial, we were 
proud to be the presenting sponsor for the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards 
last week. Our very own, Gordon Dunaway , was also nominated for a Direct Service 
Volunteer Award ages 50+.
Obama's silent regulatory army is still on the march

History has recorded that it was Winston Churchill who came up with the codename "Overlord" for the historic Allied invasion of Normandy. To this day, the word can send a shiver through even the most masculine (yes, I used the word) of men. American military operations have a tradition of great names; Desert Storm, Rolling Thunder, Neptune Spear, all inspire thoughts of bravery and grandeur.

When it comes to domestic operations, however, pencil-necked bureaucrats lack the flair, and perhaps the masculinity, for inspiring names. Take for example the Obama Justice Department's "Operation Choke Point." This grotesque, but aptly named, operation was first proposed in 2012 and commenced in 2013. Its purpose was ostensibly to choke off the ability for fraudulent and predatory companies to move money and conduct commerce, thereby effectively protecting consumers from the machinations of greedy capitalists.

You see, the real intention of the operation was to weaponize the bureaucracy to go after industries distasteful to the politically correct palate. With the FDIC and OCC on board issuing warnings to banks about "high risk merchants," the bureaucrats from DC and elsewhere had open license to make it very difficult to do business with anybody on their ideological enemies list.
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