OUR VIEW - Payday lending deserves scrutiny

Payday lenders provide an important service to those with nowhere else to turn. Payday lenders trap financially troubled consumers in a spiral of debt.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Payday lenders provide an important service to those with nowhere else to turn.

Payday lenders trap financially troubled consumers in a spiral of debt.

Those are the opposing views expressed by supporters and opponents of the payday lending industry, one that has grown from just 107 lenders in Ohio in 1996 to more than 1,500 last year.

It's an issue about which people seem to feel strongly and one that crosses political lines with conservative Republicans joining liberal Democrats on either side.

Sen. Ray Miller of Columbus is trying to line up support for legislation that will cap the fees lenders can charge as well as the number of loans a person can take. That support is not coming easy.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that those who patronize payday lenders routinely sing their praises, despite the astronomically high interest rates - in some cases near 400 percent that they are charged for loans of up to $800, rates that Tony Soprano might be embarrassed to charge.

But for some of these people, sadly there's often no place else they can turn when faced with the lights being shut off.

While we hate to see those who can least afford it being taken advantage of by predatory lenders, the fact remains that there is an obvious need among Ohioans for the services they offer there are at least five payday lenders in Norwalk that is not being fulfilled by any other business.

Despite the need, and our natural inclination against government regulation of private businesses it is government's job to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. Any business earning 400 percent interest is begging for a long hard look from the Ohio General Assembly.