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Missouri AG Koster shuts down predatory payday loans | SEMO TIMES

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Attorney General Chris Koster announced yesterday that he has obtained an agreement with eight online payday loan operations to shut down payday loan operations in Missouri, provide $270,000 in consumer restitution, and erase all loan balances for Missouri consumers.

Koster said Martin A. “Butch” Webb acted through numerous business entities operating from a Native American reservation in South Dakota, including Payday Financial, Western Sky Financial, Lakota Cash, Great Sky Finance, Red Stone Financial, Big Sky Cash, Lakota Cash, and Financial Solutions, none of which were licensed to do business in Missouri. These businesses sold short-term loans with exorbitant fees and forced consumers to agree to have their future wages garnished without going through the court system as required by Missouri law.

The Attorney General’s Office received 57 complaints from consumers who were collectively charged approximately $25,000 in excess fees. The Attorney General’s investigation subsequently discovered as many as 6,300 other Missourians who may have also been charged excessive fees. One Missouri consumer was charged a $500 origination fee on a $1,000 loan, which was immediately rolled into the principal of the loan. She was charged 194 percent APR and eventually paid more than $4,000.

“These predatory lending businesses operated in the shadows, taking advantage of Missourians through outrageous fees and unlawful garnishments,” said Koster. “Webb may have thought that by operating on tribal land he could avoid compliance with our state’s laws. He was wrong.”

Under Missouri law, a payday lender cannot charge “origination” or other such fees in excess of 10 percent of the loan, up to a maximum of $75.

The judgment obtained by Koster permanently prohibits Webb or any of his businesses from making or collecting on any loans in Missouri, and it cancels existing loan balances for his Missouri customers. Webb must also instruct credit reporting agencies to remove all information previously supplied to them about specific consumers. In addition, Webb must pay $270,000 in restitution to consumers and $30,000 in penalties to the state.

Consumers who, while living in Missouri, paid excess origination fees to one of the companies listed above—even if the loan was later sold to a third party—may be eligible to receive restitution under the terms of the judgment. The Attorney General’s office will be contacting eligible consumers.

“My hope is that every Missouri consumer who took out a short-term loan with these companies gets back what they were charged in excess of Missouri law,” said Koster. “The message to online payday lenders is clear: follow Missouri law or you won’t be doing business in our state.”

[…]

Populist messaging, auditing the Fed, payday loans – Daily Kos

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

How Democratic Progressives Survived a Landslide (TAP)

Bob Moser says that populist, localized campaign messages, not the party’s own turnout strategy, saved a few key Democratic races in the 2014 midterm elections.

After every election, the losing side naturally tends to brood over where and how things went wrong. For Democrats this year, there’s no shortage of theories about the party’s avalanche of key losses in Senate, House, and statehouse contests. Perhaps it was wrong to sideline President Obama so thoroughly. Perhaps they shouldn’t have run away from the Affordable Care Act. Perhaps they still haven’t found the formula for turning out young and minority voters in midterms. Maybe it was just a bad map that couldn’t be overcome. Or maybe there had been, as the pundits chorused, no “coherent national message” for Democrats to run on.

You can find shards of truth in these tidbits of conventional wisdom, but it’s a gauzy, overgeneralized kind of truth. It’s more instructive to take a long look at what did work in 2014—at the candidates and campaigns that overcame the Republican drift. How did Democrats beat their odds in Arizona, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Michigan even as they fell short in Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, and Colorado? The closer you look, the clearer the picture becomes: They did it the way Kirkpatrick did. They ran with their populist boots on.

Roosevelt Take: Moser references Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch’s post-election analysis on winning populist messaging.

Follow below the fold for more.

What ‘Audit the Fed’ Really Means – and Threatens (WSJ)

Robert Litan explains that Senator Paul’s proposal calls on Government Accountability Office economists to go outside their expertise to report on the Fed’s activity and minimize its independence.

Payday Loans Are Bleeding American Workers Dry. Finally, the Obama Administration Is Cracking Down. (TNR)

Danny Vinik breaks down how payday loans harm consumers: the initial loan might not be so bad, but the repeated roll-overs have a high cost. Limiting those roll-overs is one potential regulation.

The “War on Women” is a Fiscal Nightmare: Taxpayers on the Hook for Millions as Republicans Gut Family Planning (Salon)

Katie McDonough looks at Kansas as an example of where legal fees to fight for potentially unconstitutional abortion restrictions and cuts to family planning services create massive costs.

Is Republican Concern About Middle-Class Wage Stagnation Just a Big Con? (MoJo)

Kevin Drum doesn’t think this is a sign of Republican reformers succeeding in shifting the party in a populist direction, and says that the more likely explanation is an attempt to defuse Democrats.

New on Next New Deal

The Politics of Responsibility – Not Envy

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch argues that voters are responding not to envy, but to the knowledge that everyone needs to take a fair share of responsibility for shared prosperity.

[…]

How The Post Office Could Take On The Payday Loan Industry

With the idea of postal banking becoming more mainstream in the U.S., the head of the largest union of postal workers says he plans to make a revived banking service part of his union’s upcoming contract talks with the U.S. Postal Service.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), told The Huffington Post that postal banking — when post offices also offer simple banking services like checking and savings accounts — is “an idea that should be reborn and whose time has come.”

“Basic postal banking is done in many countries around the world, and in many of those countries it’s a revenue-driver for the post office,” Dimondstein said. “We think it’s a win-win-win situation. It’s great for the public. It’s great for the post office. And it’s great for postal workers.”

Dimondstein’s plans to make postal banking part of contract talks were first reported by Salon’s David Dayen.

The U.S. Postal Service once offered simple banking services to the public, but federal reforms abolished the services in 1966. With the postal service now facing a drop in first-class mail and costly mandates from Congress, the notion of restoring banking has been bandied about as a way to get the agency on more solid footing while extending some basic services to underbanked communities.

In particular, it’s been pitched as a potential alternative to the high-interest payday loans that poorer Americans rely on.

Last year, the postal service’s Office of the Inspector General recommended that the agency consider offering check cashing, money transfers and modest loans to customers who don’t have their own banks. The idea has gained currency not only with postal service boosters, but also with critics of Wall Street, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

In an op-ed last year, Warren argued that the postal service is the one organization with “the public mission, the infrastructure, the experience and the well-trained employees needed to help address this problem” of predatory lending aimed at the poor.

One interested party that hasn’t endorsed the concept of postal banking is the postal service itself. Patrick Donahoe, the postmaster general until earlier this month, “scoffed” at the idea during a press conference late last year, according to the Associated Press. “Our role is delivery,” not banking, Donahoe said.

It isn’t apparent yet how receptive Donahoe’s replacement, Megan J. Brennan, might be to reviving postal banking services. Asked whether the agency’s new management would entertain such a discussion, an agency spokeswoman said, “We’ll just have to wait and see what’s addressed during the negotiation process” with the union.

The divide over postal banking is part of a broader philosophical disagreement over the future of the post office. Heading an agency faced with red ink — most of it due to a requirement imposed by Congress that the agency pre-fund retirement benefits years in advance — Donahoe sought more latitude to streamline the postal service, pushing proposals that would eliminate Saturday delivery and close more mail processing facilities.

Postal unions have staunchly opposed such moves and argued that they will lead to the so-called death spiral, in which reduced services inevitably lead to the agency’s demise.

APWU will begin negotiations for a new contract with the postal service next week, and the union expects the agency to seek concessions in employee health and retirement benefits — a common feature in nearly all union contract talks these days. Though it isn’t clear how postal banking could fit into such a contract, Dimondstein said he believes the negotiations will provide a good opportunity to put the proposal before postal management.

“We think it’s most appropriate that the needs of [postal customers] are talked about at the bargaining table,” Dimondstein said. “And I can tell you this: I haven’t met a single person — though I don’t run into Wall Street bankers often — who think this is a bad idea.”

[…]

Ruben Diaz Jr. slips Carl Heastie cash at Sharpton event

Carl Heastie’s new job as ­Assembly speaker is already paying off.

At the end of a meeting of the National Action Network in Harlem on Saturday in which Heastie waxed poetic about renewed focus on Albany ethics — and as the Rev. Al Sharpton pressed his high-profile guests for donations — Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. slipped Heastie a wad of cash.

But it wasn’t your typical Albany payoff. It was just Diaz trying to save his fellow Dem from looking ungenerous.

The two pols were seated next to each other on stage when Sharpton, as he usually does after his Saturday speeches, called out for handouts like an auctioneer.

As people began tossing money into a wicker collection basket in front of the stage, the new speaker seemed to come up empty-handed.

At that point, Diaz divided the bills he had clumped in his own fist, discreetly handing half of the cash to his pal.

Diaz wouldn’t disclose the amount of the impromptu loan — the bills looked likely mostly ones and fives — but it seemed like he might forgive the debt.

Sharpton (left) gives Heastie a hug at the Nation Action Network in Harlem.Photo: R. Umar Abbasi

Asked if Heastie would be repaying him, Diaz chirped: “He doesn’t have to. He’s a great guy! Everybody knows who he is so he’s good for it.”

Fortunately for Heastie, an accountant by trade, he won’t have to list the loan on his annual financial -disclosure forms since it was likely smaller than $1,000.

One thing that is known about the donation is it’s going to a non-profit that, according to 2013 records, is saddled with more than $800,000 in unpaid taxes and led by a preacher who owes $3.77 million in federal and state taxes.

The payoff came the same morning Heastie was making his first public address since he was sworn in Tuesday as speaker, following the ouster of Sheldon Silver, who has been indicted by the feds on bribery charges.

It also came as he trumpeted a panel he formed to hire an Albany ethics watchdog.

A group of six Assembly members will lead a national search for an executive director of the new Office of Ethics and Compliance, according to Heastie.

The panel includes Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey. Duprey was the subject of an ethics complaint last election when her opponent accused her of bullying rival supporters.

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[…]

Dranoff pays off DRPA loan for Camden building

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Last updated: Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 1:07 AM
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015, 4:59 PM

Developer Dranoff Properties has repaid a $3 million loan, with $1.28 million in interest, on the Victor Lofts luxury apartment building on the Camden waterfront, the Delaware River Port Authority said Monday.

The DRPA lent Dranoff the money in 2003 to convert the old Radio Corp. of America “Nipper” Building into 341 apartments.

The building was listed for sale last fall, but Carl Dranoff said Monday that his company might keep it.

“We’re considering our options to retain, refinance, or sell it,” he said. “It’s all still under consideration.”

The $3 million loan was part of the DRPA’s controversial “economic development” spending program, which funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into real estate, stadiums, museums, and other projects. The DRPA stopped making those grants and loans in 2011.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia has been investigating the DRPA’s economic-development spending for nearly two years.

The Victor loan was to be interest-free until 2009, when Dranoff was supposed to start repaying it in monthly installments.

But the agreement with the DRPA stated that Dranoff’s obligation to make payments was limited to the Victor’s “available cash flow,” and Dranoff had not made any payments.

The repayment of $4.28 million announced Monday represents interest of about 3.9 percent a year over the 11 years.

“The loan was paid off on time with all interest, in accordance with the loan documents,” Dranoff said.

The money will be placed in the DRPA’s general fund, DRPA chief financial officer James White said.

In a related development, the DRPA said Monday that a $10 million loan guarantee made by the DRPA to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in 2001 had been discharged.

That guarantee was part of a financial incentive package to retain L-3 Communications in Camden.

In December, the development authority sold the building previously occupied by L-3 to a private developer, allowing the DRPA to close the loan guarantee.

“Each of these transactions represents a significant step toward permanently concluding the authority’s involvement in economic development,” said John Hanson, chief executive of the DRPA. “Our sole focus is on our core mission – stewardship of important transportation services and facilities – namely our bridges and PATCO.”

The six-story Victor Lofts structure (not including its tower) is part of what little remains of a 58-acre industrial complex.

The building began as the headquarters of Eldridge B. Johnson’s Victor Talking Machine Co. in 1901. The company was sold to RCA in 1929, then morphed into a General Electric aerospace division in 1986.

The building then became the Victor, the commercial-and-residential venture owned by Dranoff Properties, in 2003.

More environmental cleanup is required at the 60,000-square-foot Building 8, another former RCA building awaiting redevelopment, Dranoff said.

No work will be done until additional financing is available, he said.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com 215-854-4587 @nussbaumpaul […]

Beware of phony loan offers

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning Ohioans seeking extra cash following the holiday season should beware of phony loan offers.

In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received more than 200 complaints about advance-fee loans or credit cards, including many potential scams. The average reported loss was approximately $500.

“In a typical loan scam, you find a loan for $1,000 to $5,000 but the lender says you have to pay hundreds of dollars upfront to prove that you’re trustworthy,” DeWine said. “You send your own money but you don’t receive anything in return. If you have to send money in order to get money, it’s likely a scam.”

Several Ohio consumers reported losing more than $2,000 each after trying to obtain a loan online. The consumers were told they were approved for loans but first had to pay advance fees using prepaid cards or money transfers. Although the consumers provided the payments, they never received the loans.

Scam lenders use various phony reasons to explain why consumers must make upfront payments, such as:

• To prove the consumers can make the monthly payments;
• For processing fees, taxes, or insurance;
• To compensate for a low credit score;
• For closing costs or bank fees; or
• To secure the loan.

The initial fee in a loan scam is not the same as a down payment or other cost associated with a legitimate loan. Scam lenders do not check consumers’ credit history; they just promise a loan in exchange for advance payment.

To protect themselves from scams, consumers should check for complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. They also should be skeptical of lenders that ask for payment via money transfer or prepaid money card. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because once the money is sent, it is difficult to trace or to recover.

Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly or who need help detecting a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

[…]

The year in business: Payday loan debate heats up in Baton Rouge …

Lobbyists for the payday loan industry stormed Baton Rouge over the summer as state lawmakers deliberated tighter controls on short-term, high-interest loans.

Proponents for stricter rules argued payday loans prey on the working class and trap them in a cycle of debt that can ruin their credit.

But payday lenders said restrictions would put them out of business and stymie a much-needed source of lending for the poor.

By the end of the 2014 legislative session, the payday loan industry had beaten back several proposals to limits its activity. But the fight isn’t over.

What happened: The Legislature considered several proposals putting limits on payday loans during the 2014 session.

Initial bills, sponsored by Rep. Ted James, D – Baton Rouge and Sen. Ben Nevers, D – Bogalusa, proposed capping payday loan interest rates at 36 percent annually.

A later draft abandoned the 36 percent cap and instead proposed limiting borrowers to 10 payday loans per year. It also required payday lenders to enter transaction into a database reviewed by the Office of Financial Institutions.

The bill failed on the Senate floor in late April, despite the support of consumer advocates, including AARP Louisiana and Louisiana Together, a statewide network of religious and civic organizations.

Senators who voted against the bill were wary of placing limits on lending, which they said could damage the industry and hurt consumers.

What’s next: AARP Louisiana, Louisiana Together and other groups that led the initial charge for limits have vowed to continue their push in the 2015 session.

Payday lenders are likely to face heightened scrutiny in coming years, even if Louisiana rules do not change.

Federal regulators have already cracked down on banks that offer short-term products.

In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reached a $10 million settlement with payday lender ACE Cash Express over illegal debt collection tactics. The agency, which became the first to oversee payday loans in 2012, is in the process of drafting rules for the entire industry.

In the meantime, traditional lenders, including Liberty Bank & Trust in New Orleans, are experimenting with ways to offer small loans and other products tailored for low-income borrowers.

[…]

Money Talks: payday loans, Wonga ad banned and how to become …

Image 2640b63f-3566-4413-b117-cde7dcb50542-460x276.jpeg

Hello and welcome to this week’s Money Talks – a roundup of the week’s biggest stories and some things you may have missed.

Money news

Wonga’s ad breached the ASA code. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Payday loans shaken up by competition regulator British homebuyers at back of queue for local flats Wonga ad banned for not mentioning 5,853% interest rate Mortgage price war expected as lenders fight for market share More employees ‘taking time off to care for relatives’ UK house prices expected to fall by 0.8% in 2015 Flat in London goes on sale for (just) less than £100,000

Feature

Even a humble cup of tea made from a teabag has years of tasting experience behind it. Photograph: Alamy

How do I become … a tea taster

Consumer champions

Camelot now says it will refund reader’s charges. Photograph: Alamy Camelot hit the jackpot when it debited my account several times Why is First Utility sitting on my energy bill refund? Elderly mother needs protecting from Boilershield’s cold calls

In pictures

The Guardian’s UK headquarters at Kings Place, in north London. Photograph: BCO

UK’s best offices revealed – and no table football in sight

In the spotlight

Workers in their 50s are being warned that they are the primary target for pensions scammers. Photograph: Cultura RM / Alamy/Alamy

Beware the crooks who want to get their hands on your pension pot – one in eight employees aged 50 or over has been the target of fraudsters promising to release their pension savings

Work advice

Career cares? Work woes? Out of love with the office? Our expert is on hand to help. Put your questions to Jeremy, and help other readers with their worries.

Money deals

Is your current energy deal coming to an end? Don’t end up on the standard tariff. You can switch quickly and easily with the Guardian Energy Comparison Service. Compare dual fuel and separate gas and electricity deals so you’re sure you’re getting the right price for you.
Get up to 3% interest on balances up to £20,000 and up to 3% cashback on your household bills with the Santander 123 current account. Just fund the account with £500 a month and set up at least two direct debits to qualify. There is a £2 a month fee. […]

‘Cash Call’ Loan Company Agrees to Iowa Settlement

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Cash Call Inc. agrees to settlement in Iowa over high interest rates on loans. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Charging illegally high interest rates will cost a California lender $1.5 million.

The company Cash Call Inc. has agreed to pay the money and stop offering loans to Iowans in order to settle a lawsuit filed by the state.

According to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Cash Call charged interest rates of 169-percent and in one case the rate was 340-percent.

All outstanding loans have been reset to 4-percent and the state plans to contact the 3,400 Iowans who qualify for restitution from the settlement.

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Trinity Bank Increases Cash Dividend 9.7%

FORT WORTH, TX–(Marketwired – Sep 24, 2014) – Trinity Bank, N.A. (OTCBB: TYBT) announced that on September 23, 2014, the Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $.34 per share. The dividend will be payable on October 31, 2014 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on October 15, 2014.

President Jeffrey M. Harp stated, “The Board of Directors of Trinity Bank, N.A. is pleased to announce the bank’s sixth cash dividend. The dividend of $.34 per share payable in October, 2014 represents a 9.7% increase over the $.31 per share dividend that was paid in April, 2014.”

“Trinity Bank continued to perform well in the first half of 2014 in terms of growth, profitability, and operating efficiency. With an approximately 12% Capital Ratio, Trinity remains extremely well-capitalized and able to share a portion of net income with shareholders in the form of an increased cash dividend. The Board will review the dividend policy again in the spring when the operating results for the last half of 2014 are available.”

Trinity Bank, N.A. is a commercial bank that began operations May 28, 2003. For a full financial statement, visit Trinity Bank’s website: www.trinitybk.com click on “About Us” and then click on “Investor Information.” Financial information in regulatory reporting format is also available at www.fdic.gov.

This Press Release may contain certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding future financial conditions, results of operations and the Bank’s business operations. Such forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including, but not limited to, monetary policy and general economic conditions in Texas and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, the risks of changes in interest rates on the level and composition of deposits, loan demand and the values of loan collateral, securities and interest rate protection agreements, the actions of competitors and customers, the success of the Bank in implementing its strategic plan, the failure of the assumptions underlying the reserves for loan losses and the estimations of values of collateral and various financial assets and liabilities, that the costs of technological changes are more difficult or expensive than anticipated, the effects of regulatory restrictions imposed on banks generally, any changes in fiscal, monetary or regulatory policies and other uncertainties as discussed in the Bank’s Registration Statement on Form SB-1 filed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should these underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual outcomes may vary materially from outcomes expected or anticipated by the Bank. A forward-looking statement may include a statement of the assumptions or bases underlying the forward-looking statement. The Bank believes it has chosen these assumptions or bases in good faith and that they are reasonable. However, the Bank cautions you that assumptions or bases almost always vary from actual results, and the differences between assumptions or bases and actual results can be material. The Bank undertakes no obligation to publicly update or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless the securities laws require the Bank to do so.

[…]