GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Supporters of a bill that would regulate high-interest loans bused in to a Greenville County Legislative Delegation meeting Monday evening to show their support. More than 60 people, including members of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, came out to show their support for the proposed South Carolina Predatory Practice Protection Act Monday. Supporters said predatory lending is a burden on a vulnerable population that needs to be put in check.
“Predatory lending in South Carolina is a problem, and it touches every aspect of our citizens’ lives,” said Kerri Smith, an executive at Self-Help Credit Union who spoke at the meeting Monday.
The proposed bill would regulate for-profit colleges and short-term lenders, which may allow people to borrow against their vehicle or future earnings. The bill would cap interest rates on those short-term, also known as “payday” loans, at 36 percent. The bill would also require short-term lenders to provide borrowers with a financial literacy course and would fine short-term lenders up to $1,000 for breaking the law.
Mark O’Rourke voiced his support for the bill before state lawmakers as a member of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
“Frequently, they’re borrowing amounts of money between $600 and $2,000 to try to make their next monthly payment and they fall behind right away,” O’Rourke said.
He said debtors often get sucked into a cycle where they continue to take on loans to pay off earlier loans.
“It turns out that the payday loan industry makes its money off of people who have eight or ten loans on average,” he said.
Smith said companies in South Carolina can charge whatever interest rates they want, as long as they report the rates annually to a consumer affairs commission. She said in 2018 the highest rate reported was 300 percent.
Father Patrick Tuttle of St. Anthony said the problem affects more than just borrowers.
“It enslaves the citizens of our community, and this issue feathers out all the way to business owners, philanthropists…they all get affected by this horrible financial procedure,” Tuttle said.
Nobody from the short-term lending industry signed up to speak at the meeting Monday.