A few years ago, money was very tight for Chasity Wohlford. The Houston resident, who was working a low-wage job, needed to fly to Colorado for a family emergency. She says a friend told her, “Oh, just go to this payday lender. It’s super easy.” But Wohlford ended up over her head in debt after taking out that loan.
The U.S. military realized some years ago that a lot of service members were getting into serious trouble with payday and other loans with annual interest rates of 300% or higher. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law a measure that caps interest rates to protect active duty troops. Now, some members of Congress want to expand those safeguards to cover all Americans.
Wohlford says she thought she understood her loan. She borrowed $460 and she’d have to pay back $560. But Wohlford says that as she was going over the paperwork with an employee at the payday lender, “the lady was speaking so fast and was like, ‘OK this, and this and this.’ ”
Wohlford says she was told she could make the payments over the next month instead of a week. But she didn’t realize that piled on more interest and fees. She fell further behind. Eventually, she says she had to pay back about $1,200. That’s nearly three times what she borrowed.