No word yet from the Secretary of State’s office on progress toward certifying either the real 36% payday loan rate cap petition or the fake, industry-smokescreen 18% rate cap petition (you want insidious, Justin Smith? the fake 18% petition is insidious) submitted earlier this month.
But while we wait for the placement of those competing measures on the 2016 ballot, Huffington Post reminds us that the usury industry will lie on national petitions just as its minions are lying to us in South Dakota with their initiative petition.
Payday lender ACE Cash Express is encouraging its customers to sign an online petition on the White House We the People website:
That petition makes the following claims to call for opposition to new regulations proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to rein in predatory payday lenders:
Oppose the short-term lending rules being considered by the CFPB. These rules will limit our access to payday and other short-term loans and take away our financial freedom. Some of the rules would limit our ability to borrow money to 90 days a year and force us to wait 60 days between loans. This doesn’t work for us. If the rules become law, many of us will have no credit. The rules won’t apply to other forms of credit, so why are we being unfairly targeted? How we manage our money is our responsibility-not the federal government’s. We use these loans responsibly. Payday and other short-term loans are legal under state law and work for us. Regulation that makes it nearly impossible for us to obtain or to qualify for a small loan is the same as eliminating these loans [online petition, White House We the People website, downloaded 2015.11.20].
The petition language is in the voice of borrowers, but it was really written and promoted by the lenders. The language parallels language that appeared in marketing materials rolled out by the payday lender lobby prior to the petition’s launch in October. :
Thanks to some sloppy website management by the California Financial Services Providers Association, we now know precisely which company was driving the effort. The CFSPA is just one of a swarm of front-groups who go to bat for payday lenders in various realms of public policy. And they posted four documents on the industry’s “Petition Plan” to the public section of their own website.
The documents reveal that payday lender ACE Cash Express paid for a “Petition Message Development” to determine the best way to convince its customers to sign the petition. They also show screen shots of the ACE website and email messages to its customers encouraging them to sign the petition [Zach Carter, “Here’s the Dodgy Payday Lender Behind That ‘Grassroots’ White House Petition,” Huffington Post, 2015.11.19].
HuffPost notes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took $10 million out of ACE Cash Express’s hide last year for illegal debt collection tactics.
ACE Cash Express doesn’t have stores in South Dakota, but you can apply for their usurious loans online. One source calculates ACE’s annual interest rates at 792%, some portion of which is apparently spent on “message development” and “consumer engagement campaigns” disguised as grassroots petitions.