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Payday Loans - Ethics And Responsibility

popular than ever and with no end in site, payday loans have become the loan of choice for many Americans.

Payday loans are short-term loans, intended to be used for critical emergencies when no other immediate lending sources are available. Typically, those applying for payday loans have histories of poor or less-than-average credit, making it difficult or impossible to secure other, immediate financing. To that extent, payday loan companies provide a valuable service to those who truly need them; offering immediate financing to a certain segment of the population that otherwise would have no options available.

The Payday Loan Debate

There has been much debate concerning the ethics and practices of payday loan companies, both in the public and private sector. On one hand, the opponents of payday lending cite high interest rates, hard-lined collection methods, and the slippery slope of long-term payment arrangements that lead to large (sometimes huge) final payoff amounts for otherwise relatively small loan amounts.

Payday lenders and other proponents of payday lending also have valid arguments to support their claims that payday loans provide valuable, important services to a particular sector of the economy who otherwise would have no one to turn to in the event of acute, dire economic needs. Payday lenders persuasively argue that high interest rates are needed to offset the high risk that they assume when providing unsecured loans to with the worst credit histories. Lenders also point out that payday loans "level the playing field" to a degree, because traditional lending unfairly excludes those who often need the least amount of money the most.

According to their website, "the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) was established to ensure consumer confidence in, and long-term success of, the payday advance industry." They go on to state that their mission is to "promote legislation and regulation that provides payday advance customers with substantive consumer protections while preserving their access to short-term credit options, and encourage responsible industry practices by requiring." Since 1999, CFSA has consistently demonstrated a lasting commitment to help influence responsible legislation by working with policymakers in state and federal legislatures.

There are many myths surrounding payday lending. Honestly, the realities of payday lending are not nearly as sensational or as exciting as myths, legends and propaganda put forward by ardent opponents of the lending practice. Certainly, horror stories do exist but only to the same extent as other industries aimed at the nation's lower wage earners (such as used car sales, high interest rate credit cards and pre-paid credit cards).

At the end of the day, the debate is unlikely to end. More and more states are passing stricter laws to regulate the use of payday loans and the practices and limits of payday lenders. Federal lawmakers have openly expressed their views as well, on both sides of the issue. For the users of payday loans, it's clearly a love-hate relationship, and the decision is ultimately theirs. For the rest of us on the sidelines, however, perhaps we should simply refrain from making a judgment until the day comes wherein our need overrides our logic. Only then will we have a clear view of the ethics involved.


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