Thursday, April 30, 2009

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Georgia laws are subject to change regarding online payday

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Georgia Payday Loan Laws & Legislation
In May 2004 the Georgia State Legislator passed a statute which

imposed stiff penalties for payday loan lending by non-banks and

in-state banks. It also capped small consumer loans at Georgia's

small loan usury rate of 60%. Payday loan lenders pulled out of

the state of Georgia shortly after.

Georgia payday loan consumers by the tens of thousands continue

to get access to payday loans via the Internet and payday loan

call centers based in other states and offshore.

Georgia Payday loan laws. Georgia Payday loan legislation.

Georgia does not have specific payday loan safe-harbor

legislation. At this time, the best approach is to offer payday

loans via the Internet, one of the alternative methods (cash

rebates, ISP model, etc.) discussed in our training materials,

or the newest model, the CSO (Credit Services Organization)

approach.

Payday Loan Company Advance America Reaches Settlement in

Georgia

2009

Advance America announced that it has settled a class action

lawsuit in Georgia that resolves all claims against the Company

in connection with originating, marketing, or servicing any

payday loan in that state. The settlement, which does not

involve any finding of wrongdoing, requires final approval from

the State Court of Cobb County, Georgia. The Company had

previously suspended operations in Georgia during 2004.

The settlement will require Advance America to make a minimum

payment of approximately $2.0 million from which


(1) a settlement pool will be established to pay claims; and
(2) attorney fees and other costs related to the litigation and

settlement administration will be paid. The value of individual

claims will vary between $30 and $90. If claims made plus costs

exceed $2.0 million, then the Company will be required to pay

additional funds into the settlement pool up to an aggregate cap

of $3.7 million. If claims made plus applicable costs are less

than the minimum payment, the court will distribute the balance

of the minimum payment to a charitable organization of the

court's choosing. If claims made plus costs are greater than the

cap, then claims will be prorated so as not to exceed the cap.

The Company has reserved approximately $2.0 million for this

settlement, which will result in a charge against earnings in

the fourth quarter of 2008.

Commenting on the settlement, the Advance America's Vice

President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Tom Newell, said,

"Advance America possesses a strong culture of legal and

regulatory compliance and the Company will continue to

aggressively defend its products and services against these

types of claims. However, a settlement like this one makes good

business sense and brings value to our stakeholders by assuring

certainty of outcome and eliminating continuing legal costs in a

geographic market where we no longer conduct business. We are

pleased to have reached a favorable result."

Consumer-advocate groups attack new payday-lending bill
02/20/2007 - http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com

ATLANTA — Bringing payday lending back just three years after

state lawmakers banned the practice would let an unscrupulous

industry trap cash-strapped Georgians in a cycle of debt,

consumer advocates said Monday.

But a representative of the industry said a bill now before the

House would impose such strict regulations on payday lenders

that it bears no comparison to the way short-term loans were

handled in Georgia before the 2004 ban.

A House subcommittee heard testimony Monday on legislation that

would allow consumers to borrow up to $750 or 25 percent of

their monthly gross income for up to 31 days. Interest would be

$15 for every $100 borrowed.

At those rates, a payday loan would be less expensive for small

borrowers than bouncing a check, missing a credit card payment

or, worse, failing to pay an electric bill and having their

power cut off, said Jabo Covert, vice president of government

relations for Check into Cash, a payday lender based in

Cleveland, Tenn.

Covert said most of his company’s customers earn $25,000 to

$50,000 a year but find themselves temporarily short of money.

"It’s Middle America, the school teacher, state employee or

highway patrolman," he said. "They’re making smart decisions

when they need short term a small amount of cash."

But Kathy Floyd, a lobbyist with the state chapter of AARP, said

payday lenders make their money by luring the same customers

repeatedly. She said studies show that the vast majority are

forced to take out multiple loans during the course of a year

because they can’t pay back the original loan on time. "(Payday

lenders) want to hold that check and keep getting that payment

every pay period,’’ she said. “We say you can’t tame a wolf."

Allison Wall, executive director of Georgia Watch, a consumer

watchdog group, said a national study found that Georgians have

saved $150 million a year in “abusive fees’’ since the General

Assembly banned payday lending in 2004.

The Legislature acted that year as part of an effort to protect

the state’s military bases from a round of base closings.

Military officials had suggested that shutting down the payday-

loan industry would show the Pentagon that Georgia cares about

its service members.

Since then, Congress has acted to cap interest rates on loans to

members of the military at 36 percent. "If payday lending is

toxic for the military, it’s toxic for all Georgians," Wall

said.

But Covert said many of the abuses that Wall and others accuse

payday lenders of perpetrating couldn’t occur under the House

bill. He said the measure would prohibit borrowers who can’t pay

back an initial loan from rolling it over. Also, those who can’t

pay up when a loan is due would be allowed to repay the money

over two months, he said.

December 2005

The battle between FISCA (Financial Service Centers of America),

one of two payday loan national organizations and GILA (Georgia

Industrial Loan Assoc.) a trade group representing the consumer

finance companies of Georgia, continues. Literally millions of

dollars are being spent by GILA in an attempt to prevent payday

loans from being offered to residents of Georgia at "brick-n-

mortars (store fronts). The members of GILA are terrified of the

negative impact payday loans would have on their businesses.

Apparently GILA is unaware of the ability of residents of

Georgia to visit a payday loan Internet site or call an operator

of an offshore or out-of-state call center to secure a payday

loan.

Consumers in all states demand the payday loan product. No

government or business entity can squelch the demand.

Enlightened persons will embrace the product, legalize it, pass

laws to license and control it, thus generating protection for

the consumer, revenue for the state, and opportunity for the

entrepreneurs of Georgia.

It's only a matter of time...

For a thorough discussion of the payday loan industry and access

to our payday loan training materials, we recommend you proceed

to Payday and Paycheck Loans.com

DECEMBER 30, 2005:
Payday Advance Rate Exportation Programs

Payday Lending NewsEarlier today FiSCA (Financial Service

Centers of America) learned that the Eleventh Circuit of Appeals

decided to grant rehearing en banc (12 or more judges) in the

appeal of the Barkwest et als. vs. Baker et als. matter. You may

recall that this case turns on whether federal banking statutes

preempt Georgia’s 2004 anti-rate exportation statute. That law

imposed draconian criminal penalties on PDA service providers in

Georgia unless the partnering rate exporting bank retained the

predominant economic interest in the loan. The practical effect

of this statute was to shut down nearly all PDA rate exportation

programs in Georgia, which is a non-safe harbor state.

When the PDA industry challenged the statute in 2004, the

federal district court upheld the law. In a subsequent appeal to

the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals, the industry also lost,

by a 2-1 vote of the three judge panel. That decision was filed

on June 10, 2005.

The industry then petitioned for “rehearing en banc” before all

the members of the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals. These

applications are granted very rarely. They are “forlorn hopes.”

However, yesterday the circuit court granted the rehearing en

banc. We learned of that decision this morning.

The order granting the rehearing automatically vacates the prior

2-1 decision against the PDA industry’s position. It is now a

whole new ballgame with the appeal getting a fresh look by the

whole circuit court. No schedule for submitting briefs or date

for oral argument has been established yet. FiSCA’s staff will

keep you apprised of any further developments.

This decision is immensely important. By vacating the prior

ruling of the three judge panel, the circuit court has

undermined, if not pulverized, the positions of many so-called

consumer activists who have called for the adoption throughout

the country of Georgia style anti-rate exportation laws. Hostile

regulators and legislators across this continent no longer can

rely on the Eleventh Circuit’s prior 2-1 ruling upholding

Georgia’s statute. That decision no longer exists.

There is no guarantee the industry will fare better in an en

banc ruling from the Eleventh Circuit. However, granting this

sort of “full court” review is so rare (because it involves the

expenditure of a great deal of judicial resources) that it at

least means a majority of the full circuit court of appeals

believes the PDA industry has mustered quite powerful arguments

against the validity of Georgia’s law. Parties that seek and

obtain full circuit court review generally do much better than

they did in the initial decision of the three judge panel.

Anyone who wants more detailed information on this subject

should check back here or join the free newsletter offer at:

Payday And Paycheck Loans.com.

Citation:
Industrial loan act applies. Ga. Code Ann.§ 7-3-14. Ga. Comp. R.

& Regs. r. 80 § 3-1.02(7)

Small Loan Rate Cap
16% per year (10% per year discounted plus fees); 60% per year

criminal usury cap

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