Cracking down on abusive lenders: it works

Each year, consumers lose $25 billion due to predatory mortgages, payday loans, and other lending abuses like overdraft loans, excessive credit card debt, and tax refund loans. These nefarious banking practices strip away wealth from low-income people and communities, and transfer them to powerful finance interests.

Banks have vigorously fought any attempts by states to crack down on predatory lending, claiming it would not only hurt their profit margins, but on the grounds that it would dry up credit for low-income borrowers.

But a new study from the Center for Responsible Lending shows it ain't so. Analyzing six million loans over a seven-year period, the study finds that state laws are doing their job, without negative consequences:

The study shows that abusive lending drops significantly in states with strong laws, yet borrowers in the subprime market still have ready access to credit.

"The study shows that state laws are attacking the cancer of predatory lending without causing side effects," said Keith Ernst, author of the report along with Wei Li, both of the Center for Responsible Lending. "From a consumer's point of view, there's no down side."

At least 24 states have passed specific anti-predatory lending laws to supplement federal protections aimed at ending abusive mortgage lending practices. The Center has a handy chart to see how your state stacks up.