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Consumers Struggle to Escape Payday Lending Debt Trap, Study Finds
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:55 AM

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has 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.

Key Findings: Many Payday Loans Become Revolving Doors of Debt include:

  • 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.