Ohio payday lenders charge consumers as high as 591 percent, the highest in the U.S.

Posted at 9:27 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 21:27:23-05

You may already be getting those credit card bills from the holidays. Maybe you went a little overboard? 

You might even be tempted to use one of those quick loan places, to take off the edge, but it can come at a big cost, and for some, it's the only option.

The signs outside the doors say, ‘quick and easy.’ It quick it may be, but easy? "It's like ripping poor people off, basically," said Brenda Brown, whose pockets ran dry right when it was time to pay her utility bill. She needed fast cash so at the time, this was her only option.

“I mean I asked for a service, I knew that it had penalties and fines attached to it," she said.

But to what degree? She asked for a $200 loan, but ended getting a bill for nearly $500. “It's like you really didn't get what you bargained for at the end of the day,” she expressed.

That was a few years ago, just before state lawmakers passed the 2008 Short-Term Lending Act, which limits interest rates to 28 percent, but two years ago, a loophole came into play.

"They're tacking on what are called service fees for that. They really can't get away with charging any more than 40 percent APR," explained Senior Advisor at NCA Financial Planners, Melanie Ross.

A new Pew Research study found Interest rates for payday loans in Ohio are as high as 591 percent, and it's legal, the highest in the US.

“The very same payday lenders that operate in Ohio, also operate in Colorado, but they charge Ohio residents four times more," said Alex Horowitz, Senior Officer with Pew Charitable Trusts.

He continues to explain how this is possible in our state, and not in others.

“Most states have chosen to limit the prices that payday lenders can charge," he said.

“So once you gather service fees plus the APR, that's where you're getting close to 200 to 500 percent to borrow the money," explained Ross. “It's the people who are using it for their everyday living expenses, and those are the folks that I'm most worried about."

And with one in 10 people in America having little to no credit, to the point of being credit-invisible, those higher rates make it all the more challenging.

“They think they might be getting a little bit of ahead; really they're five steps behind because of all the interests they're being charged. If you have very low credit, it's going to make it almost impossible to get any other type of loan."

A lesson learned by Brenda Brown.

"I wouldn't advise anyone to do it because it is a rip-off," she said.

Brown said since that time; she has never used a payday loan service again. She still owes on that first loan, which is now in collections.