I-Team: Payday and Title Loans

Posted: Updated:

DECATUR - Predatory loaning, or a needed burden. Many say they used payday or title loans to help pay bills during emergencies, but for many they destroyed their chances at financial independence.

In Decatur, title loan businesses, can be found in busy streets, and near quiet neighborhoods. Plastered on some of their signs is friendly and confidential, but some say it’s a trick to get you in their doors.

“The rates are really high for people whom can’t afford to be in the regular banking system. The costs are tremendous” says Dr. Tony Liberatore, financial expert and director of Millikin University’s MBA program.

A lot of those costs come at the expense of low-income families. Working paycheck to paycheck living on fixed incomes rejected by conventional banks. Some payday and title loan workers to quit and talked to WAND News.

“It is loan sharking - it’s as easy as that. The private ones like I worked for -- they are loan sharks. They can sugar coat all the want; but they're not helping the economy and they're putting people further in debt.”

“If the risk is high, the lender wants a higher return, because they're going to lose out on a number of loans so they have to make it up” says Liberatore.

Making it up with high interest rates. Lending hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Bringing in cash with interest charges and fees.

“Two of my costumers has cancer and they were terminal. Upon the death of one of them, I was told I had to look in the obituary for the family's name and contact those family members and tell them we wanted the money. We had somebody who knew I was going to repossess their van. I came in Monday morning and they parked it in front of my work and torched it.”

Liberatore says, “When we look at the alternatives. Not being able to get money would be more difficult. You would have medical bills- you have other kinds of emergencies. You need money. If you don't have the title or payday loans you would have to go on the street and get it which would be worse.”

Laws have changed over the years, limiting how much interests these companies can charge. However many affected feel like not enough is being done.

WAND contacted five payday/title loan companies in the area. All said they would not talk to us on camera.

Current Conditions