More than 300 Groups Call on Congress to Take Action on Predatory Loans, Rescind “Fake Lender” Rule

With just a few days left before a crucial deadline, CFA joined a broad coalition of 324 organizations from 49 states and the District of Columbia calling for Congress to eliminate a Trump-era regulation that took effect in December and could “unleash predatory lending in all fifty states.” The rushed “fake lender” rule, which was issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), would facilitate “rent-a-bank” schemes whereby predatory lenders launder their loans through a few rogue banks, which are exempt from state interest rate caps, through a superficial partnership meant to evade critical predatory lending rules.

“Congress must act to overturn this dangerous rule that will unleash predatory lending in all 50 states. Predatory lenders prey on veterans, small businesses, and communities of color, luring them into harmful loans that strip these consumers of hard-earned capital. Congress can, and should, stop these lenders by overturning the ‘fake lender’ rule,” said Rachel Gittleman, Financial Services Outreach Manager with Consumer Federation of America.

As was done more than a dozen times under President Trump, this Congress could use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind recently finalized regulations, including the OCC’s “fake lender” rule, with just a majority vote in both chambers, limited debate, no filibuster, and the president’s signature. However, to be considered, there is a strict deadline for CRA resolutions to be introduced, estimated to be April 4. With spring recess coming up, the practical deadline is likely the end of this week. A CRA of the OCC “fake lender” rule has not yet been introduced. These resolutions also must be voted upon by a certain date, currently estimated for sometime between May 10 and May 21.

The coalition of signatories to the letter consists of 325 groups, including civil rights, community, consumer, faith, housing, labor, legal services, senior rights, small business, student lending, and veterans organizations. The letter states that “[t]he rule replaces the longstanding ‘true lender’ anti-evasion doctrine with a ‘fake lender’ rule that allows lenders charging rates of 179% or higher to evade state and voter-approved interest rate caps merely by putting a bank’s name on the paperwork — just as payday lenders were doing in the early 2000s.”

The groups warn, “These lenders charge triple-digit interest rates, target the financially vulnerable and communities of color, and trap consumers in devastating cycles of debt…. Currently, there are only a few of these rogue, predatory lenders, but they will spread to all 50 states if the OCC rule is not overturned.”

A 2-pager explanation of the “fake lender” rule is here.

For more on efforts to end debt trap lending, follow

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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