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Police: "Fit" thief sported surgical mask, scrubs to rob business


Houston police are asking for the public’s help to find a man they say donned a surgical mask, scrubs and a black baseball cap to rob a cash loan business at gunpoint in southwest Houston last December.

Police say the man walked into a cash loan business in the 8300 block of W. Bellfort around 11:45am on December 30, 2014, and held the clerk at gunpoint.

He escaped with money from the register.

Police say the suspect is a black male in his early 20’s. He approximately 5’6″-5’8″ tall and has a “fit” build.

If you have any information about this crime, or any other felony crime, please call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477). You may be eligible for a cash reward.

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URB hearings target payday loan services in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s payday loan industry could be in for an overhaul as the provincial Utility and Review Board gears up for public hearings next month.

Among the issues to be discussed is whether restrictions should be placed on repeat loan customers.

The board will also examine the maximum fee charged by the businesses, the maximum interest rate, which is now set at 60 per cent, and whether the Internet payday loan industry is adequately regulated in the province.

Board-appointed consumer advocate David Roberts said he would like to see the maximum fee of $25 per $100 borrowed reduced to be better aligned with that of other provinces.

Lenders in Manitoba, for instance, charge a maximum fee of $17 per $100, while Ontario lenders are permitted to charge up to $21 and companies in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan can charge up to $23.

“The primary issue remains the cost,” Roberts said.

“From my perspective, certainly, there is a need to justify the fact that we are the most expensive province in the country.

“The other issue has to do with repeat loans and whether there’s anything that can be done to either relieve people of some of the cost of repeat loans or to require breathing space between loans.”

In documents filed to the review board, the Canadian Payday Loan Association says the board should not change the maximum cost of borrowing.

It adds that “lenders are not making inordinate profits” and argues that the maximum fee charged on defaults should be raised from $40 to $45 to conform with fees charged by banks for invalid cheques.

The association’s president, Stan Keyes, said the costs associated with running a payday loan company are substantial, and reducing customer fees could prompt some stores to close, threatening the viability of the industry.

“Then that’s when the door opens for the unlicensed online lender to make their product available, which puts the consumer at a terrible risk,” Keyes said.

The association notes in its submission to the board that any attempt to restrict borrowers’ ability to take out repeat loans will not be effective.

“If you limit the number of loans a borrower can obtain from licensed lenders, the borrower will merely turn to unlicensed lenders to obtain credit,” the document says.

“That will only drive the market for the offshore unlicensed lenders. There is no consumer protection for borrowers who obtain loans from offshore unlicensed lenders.”

The association also takes issue with Nova Scotia’s requirement for lenders to have at least one brick-and-mortar outlet in the province, and to process requested transfers within one hour.

Those regulations “pose an obstacle to obtaining an Internet lending licence” and add to the proliferation of unlicensed Internet lenders, the group says.

Tim Houston, finance critic for the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, has requested intervener status at the hearing.

“We need to make sure that the people who use these loans are not being treated unfairly, so we just want to keep an eye on the process.”

While Houston won’t be lobbying for change one way or the other, he is concerned about the fees that lenders now charge.

“I’d be concerned about attempts to increase the rates. The fees that are being charged now I think, for the most part, seem to be pretty fair. I want to make sure there’s no undue increase.”

The hearings, set for Feb. 10 to 12, come after federal and provincial government officials accepted recommendations of a consumer measures committee to target repeat borrowing, to improve electronic tracking systems of loans and to begin a public awareness campaign about high-cost loans.


Payday loan policy and the art of legislative compromise | The …

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DENVER — De Jimenez is a single mother of three. She works in medical records and one of her children is in college. She recently took out a payday loan and she’s kicking herself, knowing she has paid about $70 to borrow $100.

“For rent,” she says of her last loan. “I get them to cover basic needs, really basic needs — food, water, shelter. They’re not for a car payment or anything like that, just to make ends meet because sometimes kids get sick. It goes back to not having paid sick days. I guess it’s a glass half full situation: If they weren’t there, I don’t know where I’d get the extra income, but at the same time, the interest rate is just so high.”

In 2010 the Colorado legislature passed payday loan consumer protections that lengthen the term of a payday loan to six months minimum from the typical two weeks — at which point a borrower has to pay that roughly $70 start-up fee to “roll over” the loan for two more weeks. The average borrower repeated that process for three to six months.

Jimenez feels more could still be done to lower the cost of payday loans, which are still about five times more expensive than credit card debt. Even so, she says the reforms made a crucial difference between just being able to manage the loans and getting caught by them.

“Before, it was like you could see a light at the end of the tunnel but it was so small it looked like a pinhole. Then you were taking out another payday loan just to pay off the first one. It was a vicious, vicious cycle,” she remembers. “At least now the light is a little brighter and the goal a little more easily attainable.”

In addition to setting minimum six-month terms for the loans, the laws also required borrowers be able to pay down the debt in installments, instead of one lump sum, and that they have the option to pay off the loan early in full without paying any fines. Since enacted, borrowers have been saving an estimated $40 million a year on what are still the most expensive loans available on the market.

Now Colorado’s law, considered a compromise between industry interests and consumer protections, may serve as a national model as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau weighs regulations on payday loans coast to coast.

“The key lesson from Colorado is that successful reform requires tackling the fundamental unaffordability of payday loans,” said Nick Bourke, who has researched the topic for PEW Charitable Trust. “Federal regulations should require a strong ability-to-repay standard and require lenders to make loans repayable over a period of time.”

PEW’s research shows that, of the 12 million Americans who take payday loans each year, most borrowers are asking for about $375 to cover routine expenses. The loans typically are made for a period of two weeks, at which point the lump sum is due or borrowers can re-up the loan by paying the initial fee again, usually in the region of $75. But, PEW found, borrowers can rarely afford to repay the loans after two weeks, since the loan amounts typically account for a third of their take-home pay. As a result, folks end up rolling over their loans for an average of half a year, ultimately racking up “interest” rates that exceed 300 percent. The interest on credit card debt, largely considered expensive, is more like 24 percent.

Most states’ payday loan consumer protections, if they have them, focus on capping that interest rate. This approach has received some push back, with opponents saying it effectively drives payday lenders out of the regulated state. In Oregon, for example, a 2007 law capping interest at 36 percent reduced the number of payday lenders from 346 to 82 in its first year on the books.

“The question is, are those people better off without credit? Current economics hasn’t answered that question yet. Some studies say people do better, that they go to friends and family or just scrape by, others say they do worse, that they get kicked out their apartment, etcetera,” said Jim Hawkins, a law professor at the University of Houston who focuses on banking.

That concern thwarted years of attempts to pass a rate cap in Colorado and ultimately motivated the compromise bill that has garnered so much national attention, according to the measure’s sponsor, House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver).

“We were definitely going down,” remembered Ferrandino. “We’d tried for years to get a bill passed. It failed two years in a row and was on the cusp of failing again. So we sat down with key votes in Senate and said: ‘Our goal is to end the cycle of debt. We have no problem with payday loans continuing or with people having access to capital, but let’s not let folks get caught in this cycle. If that’s our shared goal, what are policies we can do to get that done?’”

Legislators focused on affordability, extending the terms of the loans and making them payable in installments. The law acknowledged the 45 percent interest cap the state placed on all loans but is also give payday lenders ways to charge more fees so that the de facto interest rates for payday loans in Colorado now hover around 129 percent.

“Borrowers have been pretty happy with the changes to the loans. They reported that they were more manageable, that they could actually be paid off and were ultimately much cheaper,” said Rich Jones at the Bell Policy Center, who helped draft the bill.

PEW’s national research indicates that 90 percent of borrowers want more time to repay their loans and 80 percent say regulation should require those payments to be affordable — more like 5 percent of a borrower’s monthly income than 33 percent.

Colorado’s bill did end up taking a big bite out of the payday loan industry in the state, halving the number of stores and reducing the total number of loans from 1.57 million a year before the law to 444,000 per year. Even so, supporters of the bill note that the industry fared better in Colorado than it did in other regulated states and that borrowers’ overall access to lenders went largely unchanged.

“It was not uncommon to go to parts of Denver and see a payday lending store on all four corners of a busy intersection,” said Jones. “Now maybe there’s just one or two stores in a block instead of four or five.”

“The fact that we had more payday loan stores than Starbucks didn’t make sense,” quipped Ferrandino.

“Seventy percent of the population still lives within 10 miles of a payday loan store and that figure is roughly the same as under the old law,” said Jones.

Under Dodd-Frank federal law, the CFPB does not have the authority to set the interest rate caps other states have used to regulate payday loans. They can, however, take a leaf out of Colorado statute and require that lenders give borrowers the option to pay down the loans over an extended period of time. In fact, the CFPB could go even further and require that those payments meet an affordability standard based on the borrower’s income.

Bourke says PEW wants to see the CFPB make these kinds of changes in their next round of rulemaking and notes that the agency’s own studies indicate they’re moving that direction.

“They see there’s tremendous evidence of the problems and potential harm in this market and they intend to do something about it,” said Bourke. “I think there’s a good chance they’ll put in the repayment standard.”

Bourke isn’t the only one with his eye on the CFPB. Folks in the academy are also closely watching the issue.

Hawkins noted that while Texas has very minimal regulations on how much lenders are allowed to charge for payday loans, they’ve tried alternative routes to protecting consumers based on behavioral economics. In Texas, lenders are required to tell borrowers how long it usually takes for people to repay the loans and to provide direct cost comparisons to the same loan taken on a credit card.

“To me that’s an exciting innovation that doesn’t hamper the industry, but still ensures that folks are educated,” said Hawkins, adding that initial research indicates the information does impact borrowers’ decisions.

Hawkins also noted that Colorado’s law hit the industry in fairly specific ways — namely, it vastly reduced the number of small, local lenders. PEW research backs this up. Before the law was passed, large lenders owned just over half the stores in Colorado. Today they own closer to 75 percent.

“It’s just another policy choice. Do you want to only have big companies?” asked Hawkins, noting that the CFPB has made a point of focusing on small businesses.

In all likelihood, the CFPB will be working on this issue for much of the next year, which means they’ll be making these rules while Republicans, who will take control of the Senate next session, continue to chip away at the agency’s authority.

To that end, there might be more to learn from Colorado than policy alone.

“There’s this attitude in Colorado when it comes to policy issues that you don’t have to go all the way or have nothing at all, that you can come up with meaningful compromise,” said Ferrandino. “I think what we were able to do here proves that what the CFPB is looking at is reasonable.”

[Photo by Tom Magliery]

CFPB Consumer protection elizabeth warren Mark Ferrandino Payday Loans […]

The “ruinous consequences” of payday lending – Associated Baptist …

“Very few things harden the heart more than usury in all its forms.”A Baptist pastor in North Carolina wrote those words in the October 31, 1840 edition of the Biblical Recorder. Citing a slew of Bible verses from Exodus to Leviticus to Ezekiel, the pastor warned of the “ruinous consequences and the distress brought on a community by usurious and similar practices.”Fast-forward nearly 175 years later and you’ll find Baptists who remain deeply concerned about the “ruinous consequences” of usury or payday lending on their communities. In April, a group of Louisiana faith leaders that included Baptists backed legislation to cap fees on payday loans and modestly limit the number of these short-term, high interest-rate loans a borrower can take out each year. The legislation — which failed after facing significant opposition from the payday industry — would have limited borrowers to 10 payday loans per year.

Yes, just 10 loans.

In Missouri, where annual rates on payday loans can reach 1,950 percent, the legislature passed new “regulations” that the payday industry didn’t even oppose. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch penned an editorial in March calling the reform efforts “phony”: “When a payday lending ‘reform’ bill sails through the Missouri Senate and the payday lending industry doesn’t scream bloody murder, you can be sure…it’s not really a reform.”

The bill, which is waiting for the signature of Governor Jay Nixon, forbids loan renewals and those unable to repay their two-week loan in full can demand a repayment plan to allow borrowers a two-to-four month period to pay off the loan without accruing additional interest.

Simply limiting loan renewals is far from meaningful reform though. A borrower can use his or her next paycheck to pay off the loan and then turn around and take out another loan. As one reform advocate noted, “You can get a loan at one payday shop to pay off a loan at another payday shop.”

In both Missouri and Louisiana, legislators rejected proposals for meaningful reform and emphasized their desire not to kill the payday industry. “I don’t want to put them out of business,” said Missouri Senator Mike Cunningham, a sponsor of the “reform” bill.

Study after study has shown the “ruinous consequences” of payday lending on the working class and in low-income communities across the country. The average annual rate of a payday loan in Missouri is more than 400 percent and elected officials like Sen. Cunningham are worried about putting EZ Cash or Ace Cash Express storefronts out of business?

If your business needs to exploit others in order to survive, something is terribly wrong.

It wasn’t many years ago that lending practices like those of the payday industry were criminal. In fact, for more than 300 years in America, usury was considered to be a serious crime and law enforcement sought to apprehend and incarcerate usurious lenders.

For centuries, usury was judged by poets and philosophers and prophets and priests as an especially persistent and pernicious evil. During the U.S. founding era, interest rates on loans in all 13 colonies were capped between 5 and 8 percent. These caps were rooted in historic Christian understandings of acceptable lending practices. Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther held that interest rates of 5 to 6 percent were moral with 8 percent as a permissible rate in some circumstances.

In the early 20th century, states began to adjust their usury laws to allow for higher rates. The industrial age brought with it more stable household incomes and created a demand for greater access to credit through moderately-priced consumer loans with low double-digit interest rates. Following World War II, all 50 states had interest rate caps on small loans ranging from 24 to 42 percent per year. Thirty-six percent was the median limit.

In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to usury restrictions with a ruling that allowed national banks in deregulated states to export its high interest rates to states with strict usury laws. Deregulations and lots of legal loopholes set the stage for the emergence of the payday lending industry in the late 1990s.

During the early 1990s, payday lenders comprised only a tiny fraction of the financial services industry with just several hundred locations. A decade later, there were more than 22,000 payday storefronts in the U.S. The payday loan industry is now a multi-billion dollar enterprise with more than 12 million borrowers spending roughly $7.4 billion annually at thousands of storefronts.

In his recent column “The lie of payday loans,” Steve Wells, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, told a tragic story about a man from Waco, Texas who found himself penny-less and possession-less thanks to a payday lender. Wells asked readers to consider why the problem of predatory lending is a problem that should compel Christians and churches to take action.

His response was biblical, straight from the Book of Psalms: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Payday lending will continue to bring ruinous consequences and distress to our communities. Let’s speak up, educate others and advocate for reform. Now is the time for Christians and churches to take action.


The true cost of payday loans | CW39 NewsFix

HOUSTON, TX – It’s the American way of life. Debt. But new numbers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are shining light on one of the banking world’s gray areas: payday loans.

“The way payday lending works is that you must repay that loan within the next term and the term is on a two-week basis,” Tom Staley with Consumer Credit Capital explains.

Four out of five people who take out short-term, payday loans end up taking out another when they can’t payoff the first. Then another to pay off the second. It’s what the Protection Bureau calls “the revolving door of debt.” And once you’re in, getting out can be tough.

“Most of the people that didn’t have the $1,000 in the first place don’t have the wherewithal to pay pack that $1,000 plus $250 within two weeks,” Staley says, “so what the industry does is: they roll over that loan. What that means is you’ll extend the obligation with them for an additional $250. And that could go on forever.”

A handful of states prohibit payday lenders from rolling loans over, but do allow them to make another loan to the same borrower as soon as the first one is repaid. And more than 80% of folks who took out new loans borrowed as much if not more the second time around, racking up thousands of dollars in debt over what started as a few hundred bucks. It’s an alarming figure the Consumer Protection Bureau wants you to be aware of before you decide to take out a loan. Because odds are, if you can’t payback the first, you won’t be able to pay back the second. Or the third. And you may in up in a worse position than you started.


Wilshire Bancorp Declares Quarterly Cash Dividend

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wilshire Bancorp, Inc. (WIBC), the parent company of Wilshire Bank, announced today that the Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.03 per common share. The dividend will be paid to all stockholders of record as of January 6, 2014, payable on January 15, 2014.


Headquartered in Los Angeles, Wilshire Bancorp is the parent company of Wilshire Bank, which operates 38 branch offices in California, Texas, New Jersey and New York, and nine loan production offices in Dallas and Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA, Aurora, CO, Annandale, VA, Fort Lee, NJ, Newark, CA, New York, NY, and Bellevue, WA, and is an SBA preferred lender nationwide. Wilshire Bank is a community bank with a focus on commercial real estate lending and general commercial banking, with its primary market encompassing the multi-ethnic populations of the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. For more information, please go to


Statements concerning future performance, events, or any other guidance on future periods constitute forward-looking statements that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that might cause actual results to differ materially from stated expectations. Undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements, as they are subject to risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to the risk factors set forth in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings made from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Specific factors that could cause future results to differ materially from historical performance and these forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (1) loan production and sales, (2) credit quality, (3) the ability to expand net interest margin, (4) the ability to continue to attract low-cost deposits, (5) success of expansion efforts, (6) competition in the marketplace, (7) political developments, war or other hostilities, (8) changes in the interest rate environment, (9) the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans, (10) the ability to maintain capital requirements and adequate sources of liquidity, (11) effects of or changes in accounting policies, (12) legislative or regulatory changes or actions, (13) the ability to attract and retain key personnel, (14) the ability to receive dividends from our subsidiaries, (15) the ability to secure confidential information through the use of computer systems and telecommunications networks, (16) weakening in the economy, specifically the real estate market, either nationally or in the states in which we do business, and (17) general economic conditions. Additional information on these and other factors that could affect financial results are included in filings by Wilshire Bancorp with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Banking & BudgetingFinance Contact:

Alex Ko, EVP & CFO, (213) 427-6560


Pay Day Loans Houston – Next Day Cash Advance. Sign Up & Fast …

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Payday lending ordinance passes – Off the Kuff

In the end, it wasn’t close.

The Houston City Council overwhelmingly passed restrictions on payday and auto title lenders Wednesday, avoiding rumored parliamentary maneuvers to delay the vote and calling on the state Legislature to follow suit.

The vote was 15-2, with Councilwoman Helena Brown and Councilman James Rodriguez opposed. Rodriguez did not seek to delay the measure as had been speculated.


“Something must be done; something should be done,” Councilman Andrew Burks said. “Our Legislature, they had the ball and dropped it. I don’t like this, but I have to vote for it because … this is the only thing on the table, and it does do something.”

Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who said her office has helped seniors get back cars that had been repossessed after they defaulted on title loans, praised the outcome.

“I’m so proud to know we are taking a stand in protecting our constituents throughout our community,” Adams said. “I think this is something right.”

The measure will take effect July 1, with the city’s new budget year.

The Chron story from yesterday morning about the vote that was scheduled to take place made it sound like it would be closer, though it didn’t quote any member of Council that claimed to be undecided. The two that did vote against it were not a surprise. It’s what CM Brown does, and CM Rodriguez, the subject of a scathing column by Lisa Falkenberg that made Campos see red, was known to not object to payday lenders. The only question was whether CM Rodriguez would tag the ordinance – he was absent at the Council meeting last week and thus eligible to apply a tag, though that is usually not done – which would have the effect of pushing it onto the new Council. As it turns out, that likely would not have made any difference.

But I’m glad they didn’t wait. This was important, it needed to get done, and now there’s that much more time next year to do other things. Even with the head start, there are still plenty of items on Mayor Parker’s third term agenda. So far, so good. Statements praising the ordinance have been sent out by Sens. Rodney Ellis and Sylvia Garcia, as well as the AARP, who like Sen. Ellis calls the ordinance a message to the Lege to get its act together. PDiddie, Stace, Texas Leftist, Texpatriate, and the Observer have more.

Related Posts:

Budget amendment timeWhere things stand going into early votingPayday and title loan regulation in Houston […]

Council hears the Mayor's payday lending ordinance – Off the Kuff

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Council hears the Mayor’s payday lending ordinance

Dec 6th, 2013by Charles Kuffner.

Reaction was mixed, though it appears likely there is enough support to pass.

The proposed ordinance would limit payday loans to 20 percent of a borrower’s gross monthly income and auto title loans to 3 percent of the borrower’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the car’s value, whichever is less. Single-payment payday loans could be refinanced no more than three times, while multiple-installment loans could include no more than four payments. The principal owed would need to drop by at least 25 percent with each installment or refinancing.

Skeptics on council said the proposal could drive payday lenders outside city limits, hurting borrowers’ access to credit. Councilwoman Melissa Noriega also cautioned against viewing all such lending as nefarious, saying she knows a woman who takes out a title loan each year to buy school supplies.

“It’s very important that we not make life more difficult for poor families while we assume that we’re helping them,” she said. “I’m not saying we’re doing that; I just think that’s one of the key concerns here.”

Noriega’s concerns about what would replace payday lenders were echoed by Councilman Ed Gonzalez, who said he worried about constituents visiting a loan shark at the local cantina, and Councilman Jerry Davis, who said he did not want residents turning to “Good Times” character Lenny, a neighborhood hustler, for credit.

“I don’t know that Lenny the loan shark is much worse than the worst of the payday lenders,” Parker replied.

City Attorney David Feldman added that, while many payday lenders fled Dallas when it adopted its restrictions, the same has not been true in San Antonio.

One thing I want to point out: If you go back and review the Mayor’s proposal, you will note that nowhere in there does it put a limit on the interest rate that these lenders can charge. That means they will still be free to impose a 612% APR on their loans, while claiming they’re just charging 20% and doing their best to obfuscate what it all means. Seriously, go read this account by Forrest Wilder of taking out a “payday loan” that turned out to be a new mutation on the form that was aimed at slipping through the city of Austin’s regulations. That’s what we’re dealing with here. I understand Council’s concerns, but for the most part I don’t share them. I don’t see what’s being proposed here as needless or particularly burdensome. The item will be on Council’s agenda for December 11, which means it will likely be voted on the following week after getting tagged. Texpatriate and Stace have more.

Related Posts:

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Car Title Loan Company Opens Additional Location in Houston, TX


A car title loan with TitleMax is a great way for credit-challenged individuals to obtain the short-term cash they need.

Houston, TX (PRWEB) September 20, 2013

TitleMax, one of the nation’s largest and most reputable car title loan companies, recently opened a new location in Houston, TX on Thursday, August 1, 2013. Residents can now visit this store for all of their short-term cash needs.

The new store is located at 1216 Uvalde Rd., Houston, TX 77015. Store hours are Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The store can be reached by calling (713) 450-3036.

“A car title loan with TitleMax is a great way for credit-challenged individuals to obtain the short-term cash they need,” said Otto Bielss, Senior Vice President of Operations for TMX Finance. “We look forward to being a part of the local community and encourage those who may need our services to contact our new branch.”

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A car title loan is a fast way for credit-challenged individuals to obtain the short-term cash they need. To secure a car title loan with TitleMax in the state of Texas an individual must have a clear, or lien-free, car title, a government-issued ID and proof of income. With these items an individual can obtain a loan up to $5,000 while still maintaining the use of their vehicle. No insurance is required, there are no credit checks and most loans can be processed in as little as 30 minutes.

There are more than 40 TitleMax stores in the city of Houston and more than 200 TitleMax stores in the state of Texas. To find a TitleMax near you click Title Loan Stores.

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TitleMax, a subsidiary of TMX Finance, provides financial products to people without access to traditional credit alternatives. TitleMax has been a trusted consumer lender for over 14 years, helping hundreds of thousands of people in getting cash when they need it. Since its inception in 1998, TitleMax has grown to over 1,200 stores, spanning 14 states and provides car title loans to over 2,500 people each day. In some instances, TitleMax acts as a Credit Access Business and assists customers in obtaining loans through a third party.

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