EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPREDATORY LENDERS
from Eyewitness News Online
Beware Of Internet Lenders That Sound Too Good To Be True
Reported by: Deborah Linz
Web Producer: Deborah Linz
Reported: Nov. 15, 2012 10:01 AM EST
Updated: Nov. 15, 2012 6:35 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Predatory lenders, they are out there, on television and on the internet.
Promising fast, easy money, advertising to put thousands of dollars in your checking account in just hours after you fill out a simple online application. But there is usually a big catch to go along with those flashy and tempting ads.
Brenda Baylous is a manager at Cabell Huntington Hospital. A few years ago she wanted to buy her husband a present and saw an ad for internet lender Cash Call. Get thousands of dollars in your checking account in a day..apply online and get an answer within minutes. Brenda called the 800 number.. and she says they told her the interest rate was about 14-percent.
So she applied and within hours more than 25-hundred dollars was in her bank account.
After several months realizing she never got a copy of the contract...She called and asked one be sent...
"And then when i did get a copy of the contract i just about had a stroke".
That's because the interest rate on the loan wasn't 14%. It was 99.04%. Consequently the finance charge amounted to more than $6,600 for a total cost of $9,156.
"I was frustrated beyond belief, because no one in their right mind would agree to something like that."
She told Cash Call she wasn't going to pay 99-percent interest and then called the West Virginia Attorney General's Office.
In the state of West Virginia, banks can charge whatever interest they want. Internet lenders, however, are forbidden to charge more than 18-percent. Senior assistant attorney Norman Googel says Cash Call forged a "sham" relationship with a bank in South Dakota in an effort to charge outrageous interest rates.
"We concluded that Cash Call was the true lender and therefore was breaking the law."
Googel says Cash Call did something else illegal, the relentlessly harassed consumers by subjecting those who defaulted on loans to dozens of phone calls a day as well as slamming their checking accounts with hundreds of dollars in late fees.
Cash Call even went so far as to send an intimidating fax to Brenda's place of employment stating it had sent a field representative to her work and planned to charge her up to 150 dollars for that visit further embarrassing and humiliating her.
The Attorney General sued on behalf of nearly 300 consumers in WV and Cash Call has been ordered to pay 15 million dollars in civil penalties, refunds and cancelled debts. Both Norman Googel and Brenda insist you stay away from internet lenders at all costs. It may be quick, easy money, but it's usually not worth it in the long run. If you are still interested read all the fine print and get everything in writing. If you have any concerns or questions about a possible predatory loan company you can call the AG's office toll free at 800-368-8808.
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