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Defending short term loans in the face of misleading stats

Dec 21, 2010 Brian Bradley

Sometimes, a consumer has no other choice. A loan from the bank would take too long, credit cards are maxed out, short term isn't for another week and a broken car or overdue bills can't wait. Short term loans offer credit to people who really need it, but those lenders must constantly defend their business to government and regulatory agencies. Thomas Sowell, a contributor for the National Review Online, warns the public not to get lost in confusing statistics about nontraditional credit that he says are often used "creatively" by politicians to manipulate voters against those companies. The way Sowell sees it, these businesses are merely offering members of low-income neighborhoods small lines of credit to help make ends meet. Although annual percentage charges can reach several hundred percent, the loans are only for a few hundred dollars each. This amounts to an interest charge of about $15 per $100 loan. However, the loans are seldom borrowed for a year, says Sowell, so the numbers are misleading. Short term lenders are often accused of being misleading themselves, according to the Community Financial Services Association of America, but that accusation is just a myth, it explains. The organization says that the cost of a short term advance is fully disclosed to customers on signs in the store and in disclosure agreements.