DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Waving signs and chanting in unison, dozens of churchgoers walked the streets of south Dallas Saturday morning, protesting the loan businesses in their area.
“A loan shark by any other name is still a loan shark,” said pastor Frederick Haynes of the Friendship-West Baptist Church.
Within two years, Haynes claims 17 new payday and title loan companies have opened near his church, preying on its members during desperate times.
A single mother, who asked to remain anonymous, told us she took out a payday loan, after losing her job.
“Worst thing I could have ever done,” she said.
That $400 loan, she says, quickly spiraled out of control, adding more than 30 percent in interest every two weeks.
“I was frantic,” she said.
By the time she finally paid it off two and half years later, with the help of friends, she estimates the $400 loan cost her $4,000.
“I feel like for two years they did ruin my life,” she said.
Former customers complain that long and complicated contracts are never fully explained.
“They’re written in such small print. A lot of the time you don’t really realize what you’re signing up for,” said Charles Beasley, who says he lost his car after he was unable to pay off a loan.
In a statement, the Consumer Services Alliance of Texas, which represents these loan companies, claimed it was “surprised and disappointed” to hear of Saturday’s protest.
“The fact is that small, short term loans are often the lowest-priced option for many of our customers when compared to bounced check charges, credit card late fees, and utility reconnect fees,” read the statement.