Step up efforts to combat payday loans! So says hopeful NY governor, Eliot Spitzer.
As he fights for regulations against these resources, two State Assembly committees said Wednesday they will hold a public hearing - the first of two - upstate (Buffalo) next month. The idea is to focus on no faxing payday loans and other "challenges and pitfalls" facing low-income consumers cut off from traditional financial services.
The hearing by the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee and the Banks Committee will be held at noon Sept. 20 in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave. A second hearing will be held in October in Manhattan.
Advocates for the poor applauded the announcement.
"I think it's wonderful news that the Assembly is going to focus their attention on these kinds of issues that have been facing low-income people for a long time," said Kathleen Lynch, senior litigation attorney at the Western New York Law Center. "It is our hope that some of the abuses that we have seen will be addressed and ended."
You can assume that alleged predatory, faxless payday loan lending will be chief among these topics. The forums follow a June Buffalo News series, "The High Cost of Being Poor," that detailed how low-income consumers pay more for goods and services and the failure of laws and regulations - some of which haven't been changed in 20 years - to address the problems.
The series explained ways in which low-income consumers without cash or credit pay extra to cash checks; buy groceries from corner stores; take out bad credit payday loans; purchase furniture, electronics or appliances over time from rent-to-own stores; borrow money against their taxes; buy homes or cars; and obtain auto insurance.
In the hearings, lawmakers say they plan to examine the problems caused by low-income consumers having to rely for services on alternative providers, such as check-cashers instead of banks and rent-to-own outlets instead of department or discount stores.