Photo Credit Alaina Thompson Photography
Dear Missouri Legislators:
The little boy in the picture…. that’s my son. He is a doll! He is happy, smart, athletic, funny…. I could seriously go on but none of those things are why I’m writing you this letter. My son also has a mother who will teach him about predatory lenders –I’m writing this, because I’m worried about some of his friends as they get older. I learned just this week how bad Missouri’s predatory lending laws are.
I have this friend (he has given me permission to tell his story… but I’m going to change his name we will call him L to protect his privacy and dignity). L wants me to share his story so that others will not end up in the same situation he is in. Let me share a bit about L– he is a volunteer at a local public service agency. He works very hard to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate. As far as I can tell the only thing that L owns of his very own is his car. It’s an older car maybe worth $1500. L’s only source of income consists of the SSDI he receives.
So this is what happened. This week L found himself a bit strapped for cash. He is moving because he wanted a place with a bigger kitchen. The apartment he had previously lived in had a tiny kitchen… he didn’t even have enough space to store his pots and pans. So, L did like many in that situation would do and he found himself a trailer in town with a bigger kitchen. He didn’t have quite enough cash for his first months rent and deposit so he went to a car title loan place here in West Plains, Missouri. He said the lady there was SUPER nice! Which is great! SOOOO he borrow $300. He is so happy that his payment is only $86/month for the next 12 months… well really he said it was $85.45…. (or something $85 and some change) but he is planning on paying $86 so he can pay it off a bit early. He will pay $1026 back for the $300 he borrowed.
When I learned that L had done this… he could tell I was worried. He has repeatedly assured me that the lending place is just doing him a favor… I’m not quite convinced though. You see, I have several friends like L. Who find themselves up against difficult financial times and are on fixed incomes. I’ve seen some of these folks pay for vehicles over and over again- or even worse lose the only thing they own.
I’ve done a bit of research and I learned that this ISN’T LEGAL in many other states (See links below… maybe you can contact some of those states and see how they made that happen) So my plea is this…. Can y’all either do something about the terrible predatory lenders who even prey on the developmentally disabled, or at least find some money for some more public administrators or case managers? It’s getting a bit crazy down here in the southern end of the state. That would be great. Thanks!