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Something Stinks in Missouri With Payday Loan Legislation

Payday lenders are the target of recent legislation to control predatory practices. New federal legislation is in the works and some states have moved on this issue themselves.

But what is happening in Missouri is interesting. It seems that the Financial institutions Committee that has conducted hearings on the bill, only allowed representatives of the payday loan industry to testify. And guess what, the chair of the committee was the vice chairman, Don Wells, who owns a Kwik Kash payday loan store.

Don WellsLast week, state Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool and the vice chairman of the committee, staged a “lending presentation” in which representatives of the payday loan industry told committee members of the value of payday loans. The committee did not hear the other side. – Source

On hand were the industries’ lobbyists, John Bardgett of QC Financial Services, Randy Scherr representing United Payday Lenders and Mark Rhoads of Cash America International. The committee was shown a short video explaining the process of getting a payday loan from Advance America. – Source

I think Rep. Mary Still hit the nail on the head when she observed that Wells had a “blatant conflict of interest.”

“When a lawmaker uses his position to turn a legislative committee into a booster club for his own industry, it disgraces the entire Missouri House,” Still said.

According to Rep. Mary Still in Missouri:

  • Missouri has more payday storefronts than almost any state and some of the weakest lending regulations in the nation.
  • The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Missouri reports that payday loan companies in Missouri can charge up to 1,950 annual percentage rates. The average APR is 430.64 percent.
  • The Missouri Division of Finance reports that Missouri law allows six loan renewals and a Missouri consumer can pay up to $395 in interest and fees on a $500 loan. All surrounding states forbid renewals. – Source
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The bottom line here is that when legislation is allowed to be presented in such a fashion it doesn’t make it more palpate, it makes it reek. Fair or not, the hearings should never have been held in such a one-sided way. Rather than help the payday lenders in Missouri, Don Wells only accelerated their demise.





About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

7 Comments

  • I found the artical below and could not help but inform everyone that “Title Loans of America” has changes its name to “Community Loans of America” and is the parent company of Missouri Title Loans and many other subsidiaries.

    http://mediamayhem.blogspot.co

    Loan Sharking Malnik Style
    Alvin Malnik, a contributor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooely’s failed congressional bid in 2000, is the owner of Title Loans of a America, a Georgia-based loan sharking operation. Title Loans operates storefront lending agencies throughout the Southeast. Malnik controls more 60 loan shops in Florida alone. The scam works this way: Borrowers fork over their car titles for a high interest loan. Interest rates in some states are as high as 300 percent. If the borrower can’t make the nut, Malnik and Company give the repo men a call. Here’s the skinny on the predatory loan business from the Atlanta Contstitution, Oct. 5, 2000:

    Consumer advocates call the practice “legalized loan sharking.” They say borrowers complain the rates aren’t explained to them. Some never get out from under the mammoth interest payments, default and lose their cars. With no transportation, some lose their jobs.

    The complaints led to a protracted debate over whether to regulate the
    industry. Florida reforms will make title loans there “disappear as you
    know it,” Coniglio said.

    Florida title lenders grant more than 500,000 loans a month worth more
    than $ 25 million in principal alone, Coniglio said.

    As title lending dries up in Florida, Georgia becomes a potentially
    deeper well from which title lenders can draw. Since 1992, Georgia has
    allowed an annual percentage rate of 300 percent for title loans — more than in Florida. Lenders say high operating costs and the credit risks of borrowers justify the interest rate. “The welcome mat’s out. There’s no pressure on them,” said Melissa Burkholder, executive director of the Atlanta-based Consumer Law Center of the South.

    Georgia title lenders faced no interest rate caps before 1992. Some
    agencies charged 600 percent to 700 percent APR. In 1992, state Rep.
    Billy Randall (D-Macon) was approached by the pawn industry to legalize
    300 percent APR. “It was an act of compromise — not a great one — but it was a compromise that set some procedures in place and the (interest) cap,” said Randall, now a civil court judge in Bibb County. “I admit the amount is pretty high, but before that it was worse. “Some people wanted to do away with the industry altogether. The title lenders wanted to pass something that would save them.”

    While she chaired the state Senate Judiciary Committee in 1997, Mary
    Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) introduced legislation to ban title lending. Oliver ultimately pulled the bill, unable to get committee votes. “There were some legislators with strong constituencies who had title pawn loans,” said Oliver, back in private law practice after an unsuccessful 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor. “They were reluctant to vote against those constituencies, plus there was not a large consumer lobby in Georgia” fighting the loans. Oliver said she was not swayed to the other side, despite flying in 1997 to the funeral of a state senator — courtesy of the Georgia pawn lobby. “I didn’t know whose plane it was at the time,” Oliver said.

    Title store homicides

    In South Georgia, title lending has taken off because of Florida’s
    crackdown. Last year, Jacksonville capped title loans at 18 percent a
    year. Four miles away in the Georgia city of Kingsland (population
    15,000), there were no title loan agencies before the Florida crackdown. Two operate there today.

    Kingsland’s first homicides in three years took place Dec. 1 — at Auto Acceptance Corp. Title Pawn. The store recently had moved from
    Jacksonville. A customer walked into the title store downtown about 1
    p.m. He found two men shot dead in the head, police said.

    Robbery may have been a motive, but investigators aren’t sure. No
    witnesses have stepped forward. No arrests have been made. “There were
    hundreds of people’s names in their files. Any one of them could have
    been a suspect,” said Kingsland police Lt. Joseph Knight. “Maybe it was
    an irate customer. But so far, we can’t determine if it was a robbery or a target tied to it being a title pawnshop.”

    Kingsland City Manager Dayton Gillette — who’s also fighting massage
    parlors and X-rated movie houses — said the city council could zone
    title businesses or cap their rates. But he’s afraid that would invite
    lawsuits, unless the General Assembly adopts legislation.

    Gillette has turned to state Rep. Charlie Smith (D-St. Marys), one of
    Gov. Roy Barnes’ floor leaders. Smith supports title loan reform but says change is next to impossible in the current climate, which lacks
    widespread public and political outcry. “The title pawn business is a
    significant problem,” Smith said. “You can change it if you can get
    significant statewide support from a big group like the state chamber of commerce, but I don’t see any statewide interest in that. ”

    In Florida, counties and cities faced with consumer complaints tired of
    years of inaction by the state Legislature, so several local governments capped the interest rate on their own. The pressure helped secure state interest rate caps adopted this year.

    Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth galvanized the attack on title
    lenders, saying “their rates would make the mob blush.” “What he didn’t
    realize,” said Burkholder, the Georgia consumer advocate, ” is that in
    some instances it could well be the mafia.”

    Owner linked to mob

    Based in Dunwoody, Title Loans of America is one of the giants in auto
    title lending — and its owner has been linked by the government to
    associations with the mob. The company’s ownership came into question
    during a Fulton County civil suit. The action was brought by a woman
    whose husband borrowed $ 150 against the title of his 1979 Toyota Celica. He struggled with a repo man and was shot to death.

    According to 1997 court documents, Title Loans of America — which owns hundreds of offices throughout the Southeast — is owned by Alvin I. Malnik, a South Florida attorney.

    Malnik, 67, was a longtime associate of organized crime boss Meyer Lansky and other reputed mob members, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. In 1980, the commission denied a casino permit to a company because of its association with Malnik.

    In 1993, New Jersey gaming authorities filed a complaint when Malnik and his guests stayed free at an Atlantic City casino hotel. It reiterated the 1980 conclusions.

    “This commission,” chairman Steve P. Perskie wrote in 1993, “finds Alvin I. Malnik to be a person of unsuitable character and unsuitable
    reputation. As to his character, the evidence establishes that Mr. Malnik associated with persons engaged in organized criminal activities, and that he himself participated in transactions that were clearly illegitimate and illegal.”

    Lansky died in 1983 at age 81. After World War II, he opened gambling
    operations in South Florida and controlled casinos in Las Vegas and Cuba. Federal officials had long investigated his activities.

    Malnik admits to being Lansky’s attorney, nothing more. Never convicted
    of a crime, Malnik helped develop the Atlantic City casino industry,
    according to the New Jersey commission.

    Title Loans of America officials did not return telephone calls
    requesting comment.

    Last year, however, as title loan opponents aggressively combed Florida, Malnik granted a rare interview from his estate in Boca Raton with the Palm Beach Post. He discussed lingering questions about his character. “My representation of a man in some civil matters in the early ’60s has been converted by the media into relationships that never existed,” Malnik told the newspaper. “It’s the most preposterous, ridiculous, indefensible situation to be in.” Malnik said he owns 61 title loan stores in Florida. He bought out his Atlanta partners in Title Loans of America.

    Malnik disclosed nothing else about the business — except that
    customers are happy to borrow quick cash, then repay the debt. Malnik has denied government insinuations and is frustrated by decades of
    speculation. “Frankly,” he said, “I’ve given up. It’s like fighting
    ghosts.” end of artical

    Some St. Louis locations”

    12695 New Halls Ferry Road
    Florissant, MO 63033-4030 –
    (314) 831-0217

    8900 SAINT CHARLES ROCK RD
    SAINT LOUIS, MO 63114 -4238
    (314) 426-7440

    1205 South 5th Street
    St. Charles, MO 63301-2434
    (636) 916-1221

    7262 Natural Bridge
    Road Saint Louis, MO 63121-5024
    (314) 382-4960

    4976 Natural Bridge Ave
    Saint Louis, MO 63115
    (314) 385-0808

    6985 Olive Boulevard
    Saint Louis, MO 63130-2540
    (314) 727-0382

    1937 Shenandoah Avenue
    Saint Louis, MO 63104-2853
    (314) 771-9137

    10164 Watson Rd
    Saint Louis, MO 63127
    (314) 821-6880

    4101-4103 Jeffco Boulevard
    Arnold, MO 63010
    (636) 467-7200

  • I found the artical below and could not help but inform everyone that “Title Loans of America” has changes its name to “Community Loans of America” and is the parent company of Missouri Title Loans and many other subsidiaries.

    http://mediamayhem.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_archive.html

    Loan Sharking Malnik Style
    Alvin Malnik, a contributor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooely’s failed congressional bid in 2000, is the owner of Title Loans of a America, a Georgia-based loan sharking operation. Title Loans operates storefront lending agencies throughout the Southeast. Malnik controls more 60 loan shops in Florida alone. The scam works this way: Borrowers fork over their car titles for a high interest loan. Interest rates in some states are as high as 300 percent. If the borrower can’t make the nut, Malnik and Company give the repo men a call. Here’s the skinny on the predatory loan business from the Atlanta Contstitution, Oct. 5, 2000:

    Consumer advocates call the practice “legalized loan sharking.” They say borrowers complain the rates aren’t explained to them. Some never get out from under the mammoth interest payments, default and lose their cars. With no transportation, some lose their jobs.

    The complaints led to a protracted debate over whether to regulate the
    industry. Florida reforms will make title loans there “disappear as you
    know it,” Coniglio said.

    Florida title lenders grant more than 500,000 loans a month worth more
    than $ 25 million in principal alone, Coniglio said.

    As title lending dries up in Florida, Georgia becomes a potentially
    deeper well from which title lenders can draw. Since 1992, Georgia has
    allowed an annual percentage rate of 300 percent for title loans — more than in Florida. Lenders say high operating costs and the credit risks of borrowers justify the interest rate. “The welcome mat’s out. There’s no pressure on them,” said Melissa Burkholder, executive director of the Atlanta-based Consumer Law Center of the South.

    Georgia title lenders faced no interest rate caps before 1992. Some
    agencies charged 600 percent to 700 percent APR. In 1992, state Rep.
    Billy Randall (D-Macon) was approached by the pawn industry to legalize
    300 percent APR. “It was an act of compromise — not a great one — but it was a compromise that set some procedures in place and the (interest) cap,” said Randall, now a civil court judge in Bibb County. “I admit the amount is pretty high, but before that it was worse. “Some people wanted to do away with the industry altogether. The title lenders wanted to pass something that would save them.”

    While she chaired the state Senate Judiciary Committee in 1997, Mary
    Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) introduced legislation to ban title lending. Oliver ultimately pulled the bill, unable to get committee votes. “There were some legislators with strong constituencies who had title pawn loans,” said Oliver, back in private law practice after an unsuccessful 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor. “They were reluctant to vote against those constituencies, plus there was not a large consumer lobby in Georgia” fighting the loans. Oliver said she was not swayed to the other side, despite flying in 1997 to the funeral of a state senator — courtesy of the Georgia pawn lobby. “I didn’t know whose plane it was at the time,” Oliver said.

    Title store homicides

    In South Georgia, title lending has taken off because of Florida’s
    crackdown. Last year, Jacksonville capped title loans at 18 percent a
    year. Four miles away in the Georgia city of Kingsland (population
    15,000), there were no title loan agencies before the Florida crackdown. Two operate there today.

    Kingsland’s first homicides in three years took place Dec. 1 — at Auto Acceptance Corp. Title Pawn. The store recently had moved from
    Jacksonville. A customer walked into the title store downtown about 1
    p.m. He found two men shot dead in the head, police said.

    Robbery may have been a motive, but investigators aren’t sure. No
    witnesses have stepped forward. No arrests have been made. “There were
    hundreds of people’s names in their files. Any one of them could have
    been a suspect,” said Kingsland police Lt. Joseph Knight. “Maybe it was
    an irate customer. But so far, we can’t determine if it was a robbery or a target tied to it being a title pawnshop.”

    Kingsland City Manager Dayton Gillette — who’s also fighting massage
    parlors and X-rated movie houses — said the city council could zone
    title businesses or cap their rates. But he’s afraid that would invite
    lawsuits, unless the General Assembly adopts legislation.

    Gillette has turned to state Rep. Charlie Smith (D-St. Marys), one of
    Gov. Roy Barnes’ floor leaders. Smith supports title loan reform but says change is next to impossible in the current climate, which lacks
    widespread public and political outcry. “The title pawn business is a
    significant problem,” Smith said. “You can change it if you can get
    significant statewide support from a big group like the state chamber of commerce, but I don’t see any statewide interest in that. ”

    In Florida, counties and cities faced with consumer complaints tired of
    years of inaction by the state Legislature, so several local governments capped the interest rate on their own. The pressure helped secure state interest rate caps adopted this year.

    Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth galvanized the attack on title
    lenders, saying “their rates would make the mob blush.” “What he didn’t
    realize,” said Burkholder, the Georgia consumer advocate, ” is that in
    some instances it could well be the mafia.”

    Owner linked to mob

    Based in Dunwoody, Title Loans of America is one of the giants in auto
    title lending — and its owner has been linked by the government to
    associations with the mob. The company’s ownership came into question
    during a Fulton County civil suit. The action was brought by a woman
    whose husband borrowed $ 150 against the title of his 1979 Toyota Celica. He struggled with a repo man and was shot to death.

    According to 1997 court documents, Title Loans of America — which owns hundreds of offices throughout the Southeast — is owned by Alvin I. Malnik, a South Florida attorney.

    Malnik, 67, was a longtime associate of organized crime boss Meyer Lansky and other reputed mob members, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. In 1980, the commission denied a casino permit to a company because of its association with Malnik.

    In 1993, New Jersey gaming authorities filed a complaint when Malnik and his guests stayed free at an Atlantic City casino hotel. It reiterated the 1980 conclusions.

    “This commission,” chairman Steve P. Perskie wrote in 1993, “finds Alvin I. Malnik to be a person of unsuitable character and unsuitable
    reputation. As to his character, the evidence establishes that Mr. Malnik associated with persons engaged in organized criminal activities, and that he himself participated in transactions that were clearly illegitimate and illegal.”

    Lansky died in 1983 at age 81. After World War II, he opened gambling
    operations in South Florida and controlled casinos in Las Vegas and Cuba. Federal officials had long investigated his activities.

    Malnik admits to being Lansky’s attorney, nothing more. Never convicted
    of a crime, Malnik helped develop the Atlantic City casino industry,
    according to the New Jersey commission.

    Title Loans of America officials did not return telephone calls
    requesting comment.

    Last year, however, as title loan opponents aggressively combed Florida, Malnik granted a rare interview from his estate in Boca Raton with the Palm Beach Post. He discussed lingering questions about his character. “My representation of a man in some civil matters in the early ’60s has been converted by the media into relationships that never existed,” Malnik told the newspaper. “It’s the most preposterous, ridiculous, indefensible situation to be in.” Malnik said he owns 61 title loan stores in Florida. He bought out his Atlanta partners in Title Loans of America.

    Malnik disclosed nothing else about the business — except that
    customers are happy to borrow quick cash, then repay the debt. Malnik has denied government insinuations and is frustrated by decades of
    speculation. “Frankly,” he said, “I’ve given up. It’s like fighting
    ghosts.” end of artical

    Some St. Louis locations”

    12695 New Halls Ferry Road
    Florissant, MO 63033-4030 –
    (314) 831-0217

    8900 SAINT CHARLES ROCK RD
    SAINT LOUIS, MO 63114 -4238
    (314) 426-7440

    1205 South 5th Street
    St. Charles, MO 63301-2434
    (636) 916-1221

    7262 Natural Bridge
    Road Saint Louis, MO 63121-5024
    (314) 382-4960

    4976 Natural Bridge Ave
    Saint Louis, MO 63115
    (314) 385-0808

    6985 Olive Boulevard
    Saint Louis, MO 63130-2540
    (314) 727-0382

    1937 Shenandoah Avenue
    Saint Louis, MO 63104-2853
    (314) 771-9137

    10164 Watson Rd
    Saint Louis, MO 63127
    (314) 821-6880

    4101-4103 Jeffco Boulevard
    Arnold, MO 63010
    (636) 467-7200

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