Payday lenders are the target of new legislation that would cap the fees they charge low-income customers for short-term loans.
The Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act would restrict interest rates to no more than 36 percent in a move that would also affect companies that offer consumers other types of credit products. The bill was introduced Thursday by Democrats in the House and Senate.
"My consumer-friendly legislation would provide relief from exorbitant fees for many low-income consumers across the country, said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), who co-sponsored the House version of the bill. "Capping interest rates and fees for all consumers will not only protect working families, but also enable our economic recovery."
The move comes as federal regulators are keeping a close eye on payday lenders, which offer short-term loans to low-income borrowers who can't get credit elsewhere, but charge exorbitant fees and interest rates.
Senate Democrats, including Sherrod Brown (Ohio), have sounded the alarm on what they call a shady business model that puts consumers in harm's way. But Republicans say payday lenders that abide by the law provide low-income borrowers with much needed credit that they can't get anywhere else.
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