Beware of high fees, high interest rates on payday loans

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If you’re having trouble paying your bills, you might be considering a payday loan. But Consumer Reports warns you to be careful! Even with some recent reforms, many of these loans still come with high fees and very high interest rates. The good news is that there are alternatives – if you know where to look.

The pandemic has really exacerbated issues with payday lenders, especially for low-income people and black communities. So there was a push to offer them better and fairer banking services.

What can you do now if you need emergency cash fast? First, find a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) near you. They are financial service providers, such as a bank or credit union, whose mission is to bring financial services to low-income communities, places that many traditional banks have largely excluded.

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And joining a CDFI can be affordable. They offer free or low cost banking services with an initial deposit as low as $25.

Another avenue you can take is to find a nonprofit organization with a payment relief program. For example, Exodus Lending is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people get out of payday loan debt. These groups consolidate your loans at no cost and no interest.

If you are still considering a payday loan, state laws differ in Georgia and Florida. It’s generally illegal in Georgia unless the lender has a special license from the state. Here are the rules: https://dbf.georgia.gov/payday-lending

It’s legal in Florida but regulated by the state with consumer protections. Here are the rules: https://flofr.gov/sitePages/PaydayLenders.htm.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2021 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that does not accept advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor present on this site. For more information, visit consumer.org.

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