What We Liked About 2014: The Editors’ Favorite Stories Of The Year

What We Liked About 2014: The Editors’ Favorite Stories Of The Year

The clock hasn’t even struck midnight yet, and already we’re reminiscing about the year gone by. For us here at Consumerist, 2014 wasn’t only about how many times our stories were read, or who was clicking where, but about the process of bringing those stories to our readers and how we felt about working on them. [More]

(Hammerin Man)

CFPB Urges DoD To Close Loopholes That Cost Military Personnel Millions Of Dollars

Nearly three months ago the Obama administration and the Department of Defense announced a proposed overhaul of the Military Lending Act that would aim to close loopholes regularly exploited by predatory lenders in order to sink their hooks into military borrowers. Now, a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau highlights just how devastating – and costly – those loopholes can be for servicemembers. [More]

(DCvision2006)

Payday Lenders Now Outnumber McDonald’s (But Still Not As Many As Subway)

There are more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the U.S., meaning you’re rarely more than a few miles away from a Big Mac. But even though payday loans are illegal in more than a dozen states, these short-term predatory lending operations outnumber Golden Arches eateries by nearly 1.5 to 1, though they still have some catching up to do with the vast number of Subway stores. [More]

(Alan Bruce)

Authorities Arrest Owner, Six Employees Of Debt Collection Group That Scammed $4.1M From Consumers

We’re no stranger to the shady tactics that debt collection companies use to pry money from consumers. But the latest scam to be shut down by U.S. authorities might be one of the most egregious we’ve ever seen. [More]

(scurzuzu)

Pennsylvania Sues Think Finance, Alleging Illegal Payday Loan Scheme

Pennsylvania is one of several states with laws prohibiting payday lending, but the often predatory products still find their way to consumers via online marketplaces and companies’ claiming affiliation with American Indian tribes. In an effort to crack down on such nefarious lenders, the state’s attorney general filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Texas-based company for allegedly engineering a payday loan scheme over the internet. [More]

Why You Shouldn’t Get A Reverse Mortgage Just Because Fred Thompson Tells You To

Why You Shouldn’t Get A Reverse Mortgage Just Because Fred Thompson Tells You To

Turn on the TV and you’re just about guaranteed to come face-to-face with a celebrity or public figure selling a product or service. While those spokespeople may carry an air of respect and trust with consumers, what happens when the product they so happily lent their voice to turns out to have devastating affects on the consumer? Not much really, but it might be time for that to change. [More]

(TheTruthAbout)

Wells Fargo to Sell $8.5B In Government-Backed Student Loans to Navient

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo announced plans to get out of the payday loan-like business of direct deposit advances. Now it looks like the banking giant is getting ready to shed another aspect of its business: government-guaranteed student loans. [More]

Adam Fagen

New Prepaid Debit Card Rules Would Add Protections, Curb Overdraft Abuse

A growing number of America’s unbanked and under-banked consumers have been turning to prepaid debit cards as an alternative to checking accounts. Between 2003 and 2012, the total amount of money deposited annually onto these cards increased from $1 billion to $65 billion, and that amount is expected to near $100 million for 2014. But those cards often come with hefty fees and lack protections of other financial products. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to make prepaid cards safer and lest costly with a new slate of proposed rules. [More]

Fifth Third Bank Backtracks On Its Pledge To End Payday Loans

Fifth Third Bank Backtracks On Its Pledge To End Payday Loans

In early 2014, the four major banks still offering customers payday loan-like services announced they would discontinue their often under-fire programs by the end of the year. Apparently Fifth Third Bank has changed its mind, announcing plans to continue with a revised, supposedly less harmful version of the service for existing customers. But consumer groups say the revamped service doesn’t actually address the problems that led banks to discontinue programs in the first place. [More]

(frankieleon)

Tribes Suing New York For Restricting Payday Lending Businesses Drop Federal Suit

Despite having some of the toughest regulations prohibiting high-interest, short-term loans, New York has continued to face issues in the form of illegal online payday lenders who claim to have affiliation with Native American tribes. But those issues came a step closer to being resolved late last week when two American Indian tribes with online lending operations abandoned an effort to block the sate from restricting their businesses. [More]

C'mon kiddies, get your 5,000% APR payday loans!

UK Artist Creates Payday Loan Store For Kids

At first glance, the bright blue London storefront with a hand-painted technicolor scene of a cartoon cityscape in the window — complete with a smiling yellow mascot — looks like some sort of kid’s toy store or maybe a daycare center. That is, until you see the sign that reads, “Payday Loans 4 Kids.” [More]

(Belinda Hankins Miller)

1-In-4 Americans Turn To Payday Loans & Other High-Cost Financial Products

When discussing the topic of payday loans — or other high-cost, short-term financial products like auto-title loans and check-cashing — there can be a tendency to treat them like something that only a small percentage of Americans use. But a new report from the FDIC confirms that 25% of us have turned to one of these potentially predatory services in the past year, and that this rate has not been going down. [More]

Online Payday Loans Cost More, Result In More Complaints Than Loans From Sketchy Storefronts

DCvision2006

We understand why someone might opt for getting a payday loan online instead of doing it in person. It’s easier, faster, doesn’t require going to a shady-looking storefront operation where some trained fast-talking huckster might try to upsell you unnecessary add-ons or tack on illegal insurance policies. But the truth is that people who get their payday loans online often end up in a worse situation than they would have if they’d applied in person. [More]

(Rick Drew)

Transferring Funds To Prisoners Is Big Business For Some Financial Companies

Life isn’t supposed to be easy for prisoners, but should the punishment extend to their families? A new report highlights the ways in which some financial institutions appear to be benefiting from the bad fortunes of others while prisoners’ families fall into debt trying to provide necessities like underwear and toothpaste to their loved ones behind bars. [More]

(Hammerin Man)

Defense Dept. Aims To Close Predatory Lending Loopholes For Military Personnel

While the Military Lending Act aims to protect military personnel and their families from predatory lenders’ often unsavory lending practices that include high interest rates and excessive fees, it still allows for clever lenders to get their hooks into borrowers. That’s why the Obama Administration and the Department of Defense announced a proposed overhaul of the rules – much to consumer advocates’ delight. [More]

MGM Threatens To Sue Race For Recreating Rocky Balboa’s Epic Run

From the cease-and-desist letter sent by MGM's lawyer to the organizer of the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run.

Here in Philadelphia, it’s rare to walk by the Art Museum steps without seeing some tourist trying to reenact the triumphant conclusion to Rocky Balboa’s training runs in Rocky and Rocky II. Movie studio MGM has no issue with selling out this iconic scene to a questionable payday loan operation, but if someone actually wants to use the word “Rocky” to organize a completely free running event that retraces the Italian Stallion’s jog through Philly, well… MGM has a problem with that. [More]

(Scott Lynch)

Court Shuts Down Payday Lenders Who Made Millions Off “Loans” Borrowers Didn’t Ask For

Whether you think that payday loans are a necessary financial offering for people with bad credit to get low-value, short-term loans or a predatory product that only results in more debt for the nation’s poorest consumers, you’d agree that no loans should be doled out without the borrower’s approval. But one network is accused of putting unauthorized payday loans in consumers’ bank accounts so it can eventually siphon off even more money. [More]

Consumers aged 35 to 44 were far more likely to have wages seized for debts than those in other age groups.

Report: Nearly Four Million Workers Had Wages Garnished For Consumer Debts In 2013

For most Americans every penny counts when it comes to their paycheck, but for some workers nearly a quarter of their wages are taken to pay for past debts in a process known as garnishment. The prevalence of this type of pay seizure grew significantly in the last few years leaving more consumers struggling financially. [More]