Group takes action against payday lenders

9:05 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A local group says it will spend Valentine's Day spreading love and awareness about the dangers of payday lending.

WZZM first talked to members of The Micah Center's Anti-Payday Lending Advocacy Group in December when it began its push to warn people about the dangers of the multi-billion dollar industry. Thursday the group will take its fight to the streets during a National Day of Action.

"Locally we will be getting on the buses and getting off at different stops and talking to people and informing them about the dangers of payday lending," said Dallas Lenear, group leader. "It happens to be Valentine's Day. We want people to know that payday lenders don't love them.

Lenear says the main goal during The Day of Action is to educate the public and raise awareness. In Michigan, interest rates on those loans range between 350% to 400% plus the additional fees.

Volunteers hope spreading the word about their effort will help those who are having trouble getting out of a payday loan and prevent others from borrowing. The local push is a part of a National Day of Action going on in about a dozen states Thursday.

"Nationally there will be numerous things going on. Some people will be meeting with their legislators, others will be having rallies. So, a lot of things will be going on nationally but there are a number of steps in our overall strategy," said Lenear.

He says they are still working to take "direct action" against payday lenders and foresee lobbying Michigan lawmakers in the future. However, right now, in addition to raising awareness, the group is creating an alternative lending option for people who need money.

Lenear says so far they have been able to help two individuals avoid the payday "loan trap". The advocacy group hopes to have its loan program up and running by the fall. In the meantime, it will continue to try and help people on the individual level as much as possible.

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