Outside the front gate of Fort Campbell, Kentucky is U.S. Highway 41A. In the stretch that runs from Oak Grove, Kentucky all the way down to Clarksville, Tennessee were seedy bars, strip clubs, tattoo parlors (before they were popular), pawn shops, electronics stores (with finance plans), rent-to-own shops, and disreputable used car dealerships. The only goal of these establishments was to take a soldier’s money. Now, I was no angel back in those days and I am sure I spent my fair share of money in some of the seedier establishments; however, the really bad ones were off limits. These were normally the used car dealerships, the rent-to-own stores, a couple bars, and the electronics stores. If you went to one of these establishments and it was discovered you were there—well, let’s just say things would not be pleasant for you.
Today, the old predators are still there, right next door to the new predators: payday loan and title loan companies.
Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation’s military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge high annual percentage rates, sometimes exceeding 400 percent.Congress bans these companies ... but, as usual, Congress did not go far enough:
[T]he law has defined the types of covered loans so narrowly that it’s been all too easy for lenders to circumvent itWhat can happen to a soldier caught up in the nightmarish cycle of payday loan? They can lose their security clearance and/or they can get an Article 15 (which can make debt problems even worse as it can take pay as well as tack on extra duty).
These parasites get around the laws by extending the terms on the loans, ignoring the fact that the person taking the loan out is in the military, and even going as far as claiming that:
“The soldiers sold their vehicles to the company while retaining the option to buy back the cars—for a higher price.”Right, I am going to sell you my car for $5000 and then buy it back for $10,000, seriously? Luckily in 2012 a judge rejected that argument.
We owe it to our soldiers to stop these parasites who have become the camp followers of today. First, give our sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines a raise so that none of them need to be on food stamps, or other aid (which is why many troops end up having to go to these parasites). Second, ban these predatory parasites out of existence. Payday loans, title loans, or any other product that has an exorbitantly high interest rate should be regulated out of business.