Opinion

Washington fails on payday lenders

I want to address our state senators, and house representatives for letting down our citizens in regards to payday lending. Several bills have been submitted for consideration, but none passed due to strong lobbying efforts by these institutions. In my opinion, the biggest victims are the men and women in the military who wear the cloth of our nation.

Many of these young men and women are financially naive to these payday lender practices. Often just out of high school and living in unfamiliar surroundings without the benefit of trusted friends and families, they can be lured into a financial deal with quick access to cash without really understanding the long-term dangers. Financially strapped sailors, marines, airmen and soldiers can easily become victims by repeat use of these services. They don’t understand that a quick and simple loan of $100 from a payday lender could end up costing them $400 in the long run.

Our state representatives have failed us by not taking these cash lending establishments to task. I believe they have turned a deaf ear to our pleas for help. Our legislators only seem to be listening to the lobbyists for payday lenders, not the state’s constituents and local community leaders. I can only assume it’s because payday lending is big business and these establishments bring in millions of dollars to the state government.

My advice to my fellow citizens, sailors, marines, airmen and soldiers is to use the local banking establishments, credit unions, credit bureaus and financial institutes. The financial counseling is free and you can get great advice without ending up further in debt just for quick cash.

Since it’s unlikely the little man or woman will be heard individually, we must band together as a solid voting block so the legislators get the message loud and clear.

Military families can vote in the state where they serve without giving up home of record entitlements. Voting in your local community gives you a voice in your local school districts, elections, property taxes, and most importantly electing representation by local politicians who listen to their citizens.

Yes, payday lending and charging 29 percent interest may be legal, but these establishments also charge fees that are actually interest rates hidden under the title of fees. I encourage everyone to learn more about payday lending practices. This is not your friendly neighborhood business. They are predators who prey on the ill-informed, the naive and the desperate.

One last piece of advice: If you agree that payday lending practices take advantage of military men and women, please take the time to write or call your local officials, state senators or congressional representatives. They deserve your support.

Francis Bagarella lives in Oak Harbor.

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