Cleveland: Payday lender creates customer headaches

7:08 PM, Aug 6, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Many customers of Check 'n Go, a payday lender, have suddenly found their checking accounts are overdrawn and are bouncing checks because the lender took out more money than it should have.

Edna Sutton said three payments of $143 were withdrawn from her account instead of one.

"I'm on fixed income. I need my money. If we didn't need money and weren't going through hardships, we wouldn't have to be going to places like this," she said.

She is worried about bouncing her mortgage check and paying overdraft fees.

She was at the Check 'n Go in Cleveland's Church Square shopping center, hoping to get the problem fixed.

She is wheelchair-bound and unsuccessfully tried to get help by phone.

"They wouldn't answer the phone ... to go into my account and take money and not answer calls, that's ludicrous. Who wouldn't be pissed off? I am," she continued.

A worker at the Church Square branch declined to answer questions and ordered a Channel 3 News crew off the premises.

A spokesman for Check 'n Go said all impacted customers are being contacted, and the company will cover all bounced checks, fees "and a little extra."

He stressed that "... all aggrieved customers will be made whole."

Five years ago, Ohio lawmakers and voters sought to clamp down on payday lenders and limit exorbitant interest they charged.

But lenders are still here and thriving. An estimated 10 percent of Ohioans use them for emergency financial help.

Customer Anita Woolfolk says, "They give you loans when other people wouldn't."

Policy Matters is a group that's done studies about the lenders and their products.

The group's Amy Hanuaer says, "Despite the fact voters have said they don't want them here, payday lenders have gotten around the rules and continue to make exorbitant loans in Ohio ..."

Payday lenders operate in all 50 states. Many regulate them more strictly than Ohio.

Lenders in Ohio still have loans with 300 percent to 700 percent annual interest rates, using laws designed for mortgage lenders or credit repair groups.

Some are offering loans using the borrower's car as collateral.

Hanauer said, "Basically, we just need to say no lender of any type can charge more than 36 percent interest rate, end of story."


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