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California officials worried about short term loan fees

Nov 07, 2011 Todd Milner

California law currently limits the maximum amount a consumer can borrow from a short term lender to $300, while the most interest a lender can charge is 15 percent of a check's face value, the Palo Alto Daily News reports. However, that equals out to a 460 percent interest rate for a two-week loan, and cities and counties within the state are pushing to not only cap the fees but eliminate new short term loan businesses from emerging altogether. "People are having to forgo food on the table or clothes on their backs or transportation in order to pay back these loans," insurance commissioner Dave Jones told the San Jose Mercury News. He cites a 2007 bill he introduced to cap rates at 36 percent because "the evidence was really compelling that the rules needed to be changed in California." In East Palo Alto, city officials feared that a short term lending business would crop up to replace the recently shut down financial institution California Bank & Trust. San Mateo Credit Union emerged instead, providing residents with a viable alternative to short term loans, the Daily News adds. Currently, state law doesn't allow cities to modify interest rates, but they are allowed to ban lenders or limit them to specific zoning areas.