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Supporters push for cap on payday loan businesses


(Source: WBRC video)BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) –

Pay day loan businesses promise to help in hard times and give you cash when you need it most.

But for a lot of people payday loan and cash advance type establishments are doing more harm than good.

“We had a member in our church who had her car repossessed in the middle of the night. Got up the next morning trying to go to work and her car wasn’t there,” said Rev. R.G. Lyons with Church Without Walls.

A number of Lyons’ congregation members have fallen victim to these businesses. In fact, some checks were even stolen from the church and cashed at a cash advance business. Calls from the business became so constant they had to disconnect the lines.

“It’s really frustrating. They’re basically like school yard bullies. They prey on the weak and they try to intimidate people,” said Lyons.

Dozens of people rallied in front of YWCA in Downtown Birmingham on Monday to gain momentum on a movement to cap the interest rate for loan businesses.

Shay Farley is the Legal Director for a group called Alabama Appleseed. She has been pushing for a cap fair trading for eight years.

“We’ve had legislation for three years and so far we haven’t really gotten a lot of attention,” said Farley. “A lot of people don’t know that these title loans in Alabama are 30-day loans and they’re 300% interest. A 14-day loan where you can postdate a check in 456% and we’re tired of it.”

Farley said this isn’t a bipartisan issue nor is about a person’s ideologies or political beliefs. She said this is a moral issue and wants to see a stop to those who prey on the poor.

Senator Jabo Wagner was in Birmingham Monday. He said payday loan type businesses have and continue to have a very strong lobbying force to protect their interests.

That being said, Wagner said there is more movement this year in the legislature to lower the interest rate.

Copyright 2015 WBRC. All rights reserved.


Alabama Payday Loan Database Still on Hold – WTVY

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A database to track payday loans in Alabama remains on hold because of a court fight.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the system isn’t being implemented while the loan industry tries to block it.

The database is aimed at improving enforcement of a $500 limit on the amount of payday loans a person can have. But payday lenders sued Alabama’s Banking Department to block creation of the system last year.

A judge in Montgomery ruled against the industry in August and the industry appealed.

Banking Department attorney Elizabeth Bressler says the state hopes to have a final decision soon.

The state signed a contract with a Florida company to build the database, and legislators approve the deal earlier this month. But the work remains on hold because of the litigation.


State moves ahead with payday loan database

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Circuit court ruling a defeat for payday loans and the days of 456 percent interest.

Photo by David Garrett.

Critics of payday loans say that, even though Alabama state law limits individual borrowers to having $500 in loans at one time, many people who use the high-interest loans owe several payday loan businesses simultaneously.

That all could be changing in early 2015, thanks to a Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling. On Aug. 6, Judge Truman M. Hobbs dismissed a suit filed by payday loan companies against the Alabama State Department of Banking, which was preparing to require lenders to use a common database to track borrowers’ debts to payday lenders.

Elizabeth Bressler, general counsel for the Department of Banking, said the state now is making plans to begin the database by about Jan. 1. Unless the Alabama Supreme Court issues a stay on Hobbs’ ruling, the department will select a company to set up and operate the database, she said.

A court document filed by the Department of Banking says the state had allowed payday lenders to utilize different databases since the legislature legalized payday loans in 2003. But, the document says, the different databases used by lenders do not communicate, which means a borrower can get separate loans from businesses using different databases.

In 2013, the Department of Banking issued a new regulation that required payday lenders to use a common third-party database. Several lenders, including Cash Mart Inc. and Rapid Cash of Alabama, filed suit against the state. Hobbs’ ruling dismissed the lenders’ case.

Payday loans are short-term, no credit check loans that are accessible to people who have jobs and checking accounts. Typically, borrowers promise to repay the loans on their next payday and are charged 17.5 percent interest for that period, which generally is two weeks to 30 days. Borrowers give lenders checks dated for their payday.

Thus, a $300 loan carries $52.50 in interest. A $500 loan costs $587.50 to repay. That equals up to 456 percent interest per year.

Many payday lenders require borrowers to return on payday with cash to cover the loan and interest. They are given their checks back at that point. If the borrower does not come, the lender cashes the check. Some lenders simply cash the checks on the borrowers’ payday instead of asking borrowers to pay in cash.

In his ruling, Hobbs wrote that the lenders argued that the Department of Banking regulation would conflict with the state law requiring use of a database because it would eliminate lenders’ ability to choose a database vendor and negotiate a more favorable fee. If a state-approved database is used, lenders will pay a standard fee.

“The statute does not guarantee a choice of vendors for lenders. … The only requirement in the statute is that the vendor must be a private sector entity, an obligation honored by the regulation. There is no conflict between the statute and the regulation,” the ruling said.

Hobbs also ruled against the lenders’ claim that the fee charged by the database vendor would amount to a tax. “It would be a strange tax indeed which found its way to private, as opposed to public coffers,” he wrote.

Supporters of efforts to control payday loans are happy with the ruling. “This ruling is the first win for Alabama consumers since payday loans crept into Alabama and were legalized in 2003. A common database ensures that the state Banking Department can adequately monitor payday lenders and enforce the law,” said Shay M. Farley, legal director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

“Holding these lenders accountable is only the first step,” she said in a statement. “We need the legislature to act to put an end to their abusive practices. It is time to take a stand against the debt trap. Information gathered from other states’ payday lending databases and independent research shows the extensive amount of household assets that are syphoned by this industry. The legislature must end triple-digit interest rates and require lenders to examine a borrower’s ability to repay before knowingly saddling them with insurmountable debt.”

The Alabama Appleseed Center is one of several organizations that have banded together to drum up grassroots support and lobby legislators to make changes that would include limiting the amount of interest payday lenders charge. A bill introduced by State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in the 2014 legislative session would have limited the interest rate to 36 percent. That bill died without coming to a vote, but Todd has said she plans to try again in 2015.

“I’ve been working with several people in the department and we are soon going to issue a request for proposals,” said Anne Gunter, associate counsel for the Department of Banking.

Bressler said the Department of Banking will give bidders a month to submit their bids after the request for proposals is issued. She expects to have bids by October.

Asked how long the process will take, Gunter said, “It really depends on the bids we receive. The more bids we receive, the longer it’s going to take. … We’re just going to see what happens.”

Bressler said the payday lenders have filed a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court but the state can move ahead if the higher court does not grant a stay.

“Obviously, we are pleased with the circuit court ruling and we will wait to hear from the Supreme Court,” Gunter said.


United Security Bancshares, Inc. Declares Cash Dividend


United Security Bancshares, Inc. (USBI) announced today that the Board of Directors, at a meeting held earlier today, declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.01 per share. The dividend is payable October 1, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 12, 2014.

“Our Board of Directors is pleased to resume paying a quarterly cash dividend to our shareholders,” stated James F. House, President and CEO of United Security Bancshares, Inc. “We will continue to evaluate any future dividend payments so that they will be consistent with maintaining our strong capital base,” concluded Mr. House.

About United Security Bancshares, Inc.

United Security Bancshares, Inc. is a bank holding company that operates nineteen banking offices in Alabama through First United Security Bank. In addition, the Company’s operations include Acceptance Loan Company, Inc., a consumer loan company, and FUSB Reinsurance, Inc., an underwriter of credit life and credit accident and health insurance policies sold to the Bank’s and ALC’s consumer loan customers. The Company’s stock is traded on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “USBI.”

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, as defined by federal securities laws. Statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. These statements may address issues that involve significant risks, uncertainties, estimates and assumptions made by management. USBI undertakes no obligation to update these statements following the date of this press release, except as required by law. In addition, USBI, through its senior management, may make from time to time forward-looking public statements concerning the matters described herein. Such forward-looking statements are necessarily estimates reflecting the best judgment of USBI’s senior management based upon current information and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Certain factors that could affect the accuracy of such forward-looking statements are identified in the public filings made by USBI with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and forward-looking statements contained in this press release or in other public statements of USBI or its senior management should be considered in light of those factors. Specifically, with respect to statements relating to loan demand, growth and earnings potential and the adequacy of the allowance for loan losses for USBI, these factors include, but are not limited to, the rate of growth (or lack thereof) in the economy, the relative strength and weakness in the consumer and commercial credit sectors and in the real estate markets and collateral values. There can be no assurance that such factors or other factors will not affect the accuracy of such forward-looking statements.

FinanceInvestment & Company Information Contact:

United Security Bancshares, Inc.
Thomas S. Elley, 334-636-5424


Payday loan opponents continue battle – Weld for Birmingham

Lawyers and lawmakers try to put a stop to predatory lending practices.

It’s about eight months until the Alabama Legislature convenes its 2015 regular session, but proponents of laws to control payday and title loans are working hard in the off season.

The Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama (ARLA), a nonprofit coalition of organizations that focuses on payday and title loans, is developing grassroots support for a state law that would limit interest rates and impose other restrictions. The group also is working closely with city officials around the state in efforts to get cities to restrict payday and title loan businesses.

“We now have 21 ordinances in place that in some way restrict predatory loans,” says Shay M. Farley, legal director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice Inc., a member of ARLA.

Montgomery recently adopted a zoning ordinance that requires new payday and title loan businesses to be at least 2,500 feet apart as well as at least 250 feet away from schools, churches, parks and houses.

Pelham adopted a one-year moratorium on new payday and title loan stores, pawn shops, check-cashing business and other businesses in June.

Farley now is working with officials in Tuscaloosa and Troy on possible ordinances and says some officials in Huntsville are interested in restrictions as well.

“Part of the next steps is getting more city councils interested,” Farley says.

While she is pleased that cities are taking action, Farley says they are not able to impose limits on how payday and title loans do business. So ARLA is now asking city councils to pass resolutions asking the Alabama League of Municipalities and legislative delegations to support bills restricting predatory lending in the 2015 session.

Several bills that would have limited payday and title loans died in the legislature in 2014. One sponsored by State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) would have limited payday loans to 36 percent interest and required lenders to use a common database so that borrowers could get no more than $500 in loans at one time.

Payday loans are short-term loans that are accessible to people who have jobs and checking accounts with no credit check. Typically, borrowers promise to repay the loans on their next payday and are charged 17.5 percent interest for that period, which generally is two weeks to 30 days. Borrowers give lenders checks dated for their payday.

Thus, a $300 loan carries $52.50 in interest. A $500 loan, the highest allowed by Alabama law, costs $587.50 to repay. That equals as much as 456 percent annual interest.

Many payday lenders require borrowers to return on payday with cash to cover the loan and interest. They are given their checks back at that point. If the borrower does not come, the lender cashes the check. Some lenders simply cash the checks on the borrowers’ payday instead of asking borrowers to pay in cash.

Borrowers frequently take out another loan immediately after they repay one.

Title loans, which are basically pawns of car titles, carry the same 25 percent per-month interest allowed for pawn shops, or 300 percent annual interest.

A bill sponsored by State Rep. Roderick Scott (D-Fairfield) would have limited title loans to 36 percent interest, and one introduced by State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) would have restricted the interest for both kind of loans to 30 percent.

“We’re absolutely using the off season to spread the word louder and further. … We are trying to go to at least the four corners of the state. We have done the Wiregrass. We’ve done the northeast section of the state,” Farley says. “We also incentivize people to be engaged at the local level.”

ARLA is holding informational meetings to let participants know about the issues surrounding payday and title loans. Farley says about 45 people, including city officials and representatives of the faith community, attended a recent session in Huntsville.

“Beyond that, we have done some pretty good things. … We are doing a mobile petition where we have created these banners that we are asking people who come out to our meetings to add their names to,” she says “We can use that as an example of the support to show the size and the scope of the support.”

She believes the support for restrictions on payday and title loans is growing. She uses the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention and Northern Alabama District of the United Methodist Church both have recently adopted resolutions as evidence. Newspapers around the state also have published editorials in favor of restrictions.

Farley says she has been working to educate people about payday and title loans for six years. Support in the legislature has galvanized only in the last two sessions. She says no bill had made it to the floor in the legislature until this year, when Scott’s bill made it that far.

“It took us 12 years to get a landlord-tenant law,” Farley says.

ARLA plans to continue campaigning for restrictions on payday and title loans, and Todd says she intends to introduce a bill again in 2015.

Farley says people who learn that borrowers pay up to 456 percent interest on their loans often are offended by that fact.

“If you believe that everyone should only take out loans that they can afford, you should not believe in these payday loans,” Farley says. “The most conservative person who believes in fiscal responsibility should not be for this product.”

ARLA will keep expanding its community engagement in coming months. “If we can continue to do these outreach sessions, the number of people who are talking about it will continue to get that momentum flowing,” Farley says.

For more information on ARLA, visit its Facebook page.


Shopping center getting final touches; will house Dunkin Donuts, Orange Leaf Yogurt and Speedy Cash loan store

Workers are in the final stage of construction of a new shopping center on McFarland Boulevard on Wednesday. Three businesses in the shopping center are expected to open this summer.

Staff photo | Erin Nelson

Published: Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 11:34 p.m.

The finishing touches are being made to a new shopping center on McFarland Boulevard that will be home to a Dunkin Donuts, Orange Leaf Yogurt and a Speedy Cash loan store.

Those businesses should be ready to open this summer, said Patrick Agee of Advantage Realty, the leasing agent for the shopping center located at the corner of McFarland and James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway.

The $2.5 million to

$3 million shopping center, which is across the road from the Master Inn motel on McFarland, has about 45,000 square feet of additional space available to lease. That space would be suitable for two to three additional businesses, such as restaurants or retail shops, Agee said.

Once a business signs a lease, it will hire a company to do the finishing work on the interior and install desired fixtures, Agee said.

Much of that work now is already done by the three companies that will open soon.

The Dunkin Donuts shop will be on the north end of the shopping center and will be the first such doughnut shop on the south end of town, Agee said. Its proximity to Interstate 20/59 should make it attractive to motorists passing through the area as well as nearby residents, he said.

It also is part of an ongoing expansion by the doughnut shop chain in the Tuscaloosa market. Dunkin Donuts opened its first shop here in 2012 in the Lakeside Dining Hall on the University of Alabama campus, and last year it opened a shop on the site of the old Greyhound Bus Station on Stillman Boulevard.

Dunkin Donuts also has plans for two additional shops — one at 15th Street and Dr. Edward Hillard Drive and the other at the Hillcrest Shopping Center on Alabama Highway 69 South, Agee said.

The Orange Leaf Yogurt shop will be the company’s second location in the Tuscaloosa market. It now has a store on Jack Warner Parkway.

The shopping center is owned by Crescent LLC. The Alabama Secretary of State Office lists Robert and Anne Monford of Tuscaloosa as the principal owners of Crescent LLC.


New payday lending bill moving in AL legislature | Times Free Press


Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After years of killing bills to tighten regulations on payday loans, the legislature may agree to set up a database to make sure people don’t take out more than $500 in loans at one time.

The House Financial Services Committee voted unanimously today to approve a bill that would set up the statewide database of payday loans in the Alabama Banking Department. Businesses would have to enter information in the database each time they got ready to issue a loan. If someone already had $500 in loans, the business could not issue one exceeding that.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham, said Alabama has had a $500 limit, but there was no way to enforce it without a central database. She said people would go to multiple lenders and take out more than $500 in loans, trapping them in a cycle of high-interest debt.

“This will at least keep people from having multiple $500 loans,” she said.

Todd’s bill now goes to the House. She said she is optimistic about its chances because she worked out a compromise with the industry and had bipartisan support in developing the compromise.

Payday loans are short-term loans, usually for 14 to 30 days with annual interest rates that can hit 456 percent. Payday lenders say they serve a market that banks don’t want to serve, and the costs are cheaper than bouncing a check.

Todd and others have tried for several years to pass bills lowering the interest rates with no success. The bill she introduced at the start of the legislative session stalled in the Financial Services Committee, where six of the nine members had received campaign contributions from the industry or an associated political action committee. The amount ranged from $1,000 to $3,900.

Once Todd dropped the interest rate cap and focused on the database, her bill breezed through Wednesday with bipartisan support.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s Banking Department tried to use its regulatory authority to set up a database last year. The industry sued and got the database put on hold pending a trial in June. Todd’s bill would negate the lawsuit and get a database operating by early 2015.

Herb Winches, lobbyist for the 13 Check Depot stores in the Birmingham area, said the family-owned business wants to make sure small lenders have the same access as big lenders. If that is done, he said Check Depot is fine with the legislation.

“It’s going to become law, so you don’t have any choice,” he said.

Anna Pritchett, advocacy director for AARP Alabama, said the bill doesn’t do as much as the organization for older citizens wanted, but “any forward motion is good.”

Todd said she would like to give the database two years to work and then come back with additional regulatory legislation.

Todd’s bill does not affect title loans on vehicles.


Group rallies to limit payday loans in AL | Times Free Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — About 50 people rallied on the Statehouse steps in Montgomery to show their support for legislation limiting interest rates on payday and title loans.

Members of the Alliance for Responsible Lending gathered today to support bills from Democratic Rep. Rod Scott of Fairfield and Patricia Todd of Birmingham that limit interest to 36 percent. The group backing the bills includes representatives of Alabama Appleseed, the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, the state NAACP, and AARP.

Pamela Tarver of Montgomery told the group that she took out a $700 title loan four years ago to pay her rent. The lender kept offering her more credit and she increased it to $3,800. She said she has paid more than $14,000 in interest and fees and still owes money.


Grassroots Campaign Helps End Bank's Payday Lending | EQUAL …

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Grassroots Campaign Helps End Bank’s Payday Lending

January 28, 2014 | Filed under: Archive,Communities,Community Briefs,Midwest |

National People’s Action

In the wake of a months-long campaign by community groups, Regions Financial Corp. announced the discontinuation of its “Direct Deposit Advance” payday lending product.

Community groups, including organizations in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Alabama, had argued these loans were predatory, believing that Regions Bank was taking advantage of its own struggling depositors.

The loans would allow a consumer to take an advance on government benefits and paychecks. They often came with very high interest rates – typically $10 on a $100 loan – and balloon payments that trapped consumers in a cycle of debt. One study showed that borrowers who used these products would often take out loan after loan – as many as 10 a year, with fees topping $458.

“We need banks to help families build wealth, not strip it away,” George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action (NPA), said in a statement. “That is why this announcement is a victory for consumers of Regions Bank and Americans who are feeling the pinch of rising inequality.”

The decision by the Alabama-based bank follows similar decisions by other banks to discontinue their payday lending programs.

NPA, along with Illinois People’s Action, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Grass Roots Organizing Missouri and others, had been campaigning for the change since last year. In November, they delivered petitions with 12,000 signatures to Regions Bank branches. They mounted an online campaign, as well, asking consumers across the country to tweet about the issue. In addition, they ran an online banner ad campaign that generated 1.5 million impressions.

While NPA says the announcement, which was made during the week of Jan. 13, is a positive step, it plans to continue pushing the Federal Reserve to issue guidelines that put an end to the practice.

National People’s Action is a network of grassroots organizations that works on economic and racial justice issues.


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