Government

Church Fights Against Title Loans With Political Pressure

Secured short-term loans from private lenders are often the only option for millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. The majority of these Americans have little or no savings and do not have the credit score required by the banks. The private lenders of payday and title loans charge high rates of interest. Many lenders also levy fees initially and subsequently fines when the borrower fails to repay on time.

The Problem with Title Loans

These are usually come with a very limited repayment term. These types of loans typically have a repayment term of thirty days. There is a one-time repayment of the amount with the accrued interest. According to this resource page by Titlelo, title loans also have a similar repayment term but in some cases, the period may be extended to ninety days. A few lenders offer title loans with possible renewal terms of up to a hundred and eighty days.

While such loans are usually around a few hundred dollars, the immediate repayment in a few weeks becomes overwhelming and practically impossible for many borrowers. This leads them to a debt trap. The borrowers have to keep renewing the credit at higher rates of interest while paying the fines for late payment.

img source: http://blog.way2wealth.com

The Initiative for Change and Regulation

There have been innumerable instances around the country where different groups of activists and experts have lobbied for the states and the federal government to legislate on title and payday loans. Now churches have joined the fight against title loans and they are creating political pressure for the legislators to act and protect borrowers from predatory practices of private lenders.

Case in Point

Pastors Carlos at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, Texas, recently helped a woman who had got into default on a payday credit. The woman had borrowed three hundred dollars initially from a money store. The credit was not paid and the accumulated interest inflated the outstanding due. She was compelled to renew the credit and this brought on extra fees and more interest.

The family of the woman also had to take a title loan. They pledged the title of the car and failed to repay it. They were at risk of losing the car and some of their loans would have remained unpaid for their total debt owed to different lenders had skyrocketed to over ten thousand dollars.

The Valencia family managed to help the woman. Fortunately, she did not lose her vehicle. The woman is not alone as there are millions of Americans, most of them earning less than forty thousand dollars a year with little or no savings, who have got into a cycle of debt owing to the easily available title loans that carry enormous interest, additional fees, and possible fines. Many borrowers lose their cars and some even have to sell their homes when the outstanding debt balloons to tens of thousands of dollars.

Lobbying Against Title Loans

Various churches across many states are lobbying the local government and senators to bring in stricter laws to regulate the private lending industry. The availability of small credits at exorbitant interests is making ordinary Americans vulnerable to debt that becomes unmanageable sooner than later. Presently, most states have laws pertaining to these credits. However, some laws are more lax than others. Payday credits have rates of interest as high as 900%. The rates are rarely 300% per year or even close. Most payday credits will have a rate higher than 400% per year in every state where they are legal. Title loans do not have identical rates but they are still as high as 400% with many lenders.

img source: europarl.europa.eu

While many churches are fighting against title loans with political pressure, there are some cases where such bodies are advocating for expansion of the availability of such credits. Some pastors in the state of Florida lobbied and pushed the lawmakers to permit Amscot, a payday loan company, to expand its operations. The company is understood to have been helping many people in need and this group of pastors wants more citizens to have access to easy funds in trying circumstances.

An Inconvenient Conclusion

The premise of title loans has its share of pros and cons. It is true that these present a real risk for borrowers and one may lose their car if they fail to repay. Yet, they are often the only option for borrowers to get some money when they need it the most. Had there been better options or the borrowers would have had impeccable credit histories, any kind of loan with a substantially high or exploitative interest would have been a nonstarter. The states that have extensive laws regulating title and payday loans have loopholes that need to be plugged to prevent lenders from exploiting borrowers that are in need of financial assistance.

Is America doing enough to protect itself from cyber-attacks?

///

The political world is an ever-evolving beast that can see new threats or issues crop up regularly. Within the politics of any one country, foreign affairs is always an area in which this is felt keenly. This is especially true for a superpower such as America, which has allies to foster close links with around the globe but also enemies.

It is the enemies that naturally take up the most column inches in the media and also the most time within the White House. As these can represent an actual threat to America in both physical and economic terms, the foreign secretary will spend a lot of time outlining policy for these nations with the president. One big threat that America is certainly having to factor in here is cyber-attacks. This is becoming an increasingly popular way for countries hostile to the US to try to breach its defenses and cause it harm.

Russia and US relations key

To say that relations between the US and Russia have been shaky for a long time now is somewhat of an understatement. Although the period after the Cold War ended seemed to bring both nations closer, this has now been reversed under Vladimir Putin.

Img Source: oilfiredup.com

Russia now is well-known for using cyber-attacks on other nations, and the US is reported as one victim of this tactic. During the 2018 midterm elections, for example, US sources revealed that internet access had been denied to a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency. This was the same company that had been suspected of committing a cybercrime against the US in the 2016 presidential election.

This situation shows just how common cyber-attacks are becoming as a tool that other nations will use against America. It is in many ways a simple update of the Cold War for the 21st century but with no physical agents having to be risked. Many believe that one way of combating this is to involve more foreign policy experts on Russia to help. Angela Stent is one well-respected expert on Russian-American relations and someone who many believe could provide the advice needed. By involving people like her, America could well head off any future Russian cyber-attacks and have more knowledge on how relations could be improved between the two.

Img Source: brookings.edu

Cyber-attacks from Russia, not the only issue

Russia is not the only nation that is beginning to use cybercrime against nations such as the US to get the sensitive information it wants. China is also very active in this area and is another nation that America needs to be very careful of in terms of protecting its IT infrastructure. Of course, the burning question for many Americans is whether the US is doing enough to stop Russian and Chinese cybercrime.

Img Source: economist.com

More urgency needed from policymakers

While steps are being taken to deal with cyber-attacks on American networks and systems, many feel that the policymakers in Government are being too slow to react. As the cybercrimes that are being targeted against the US become ever more sophisticated, many fear that not enough is being done now by those in power to head them off. It would seem that the US could be doing more in terms of the policy to fight this kind of crime from outside its borders. It is apparent that nations such as Russia have made cyber warfare a key tenant of their foreign policy – maybe America should make cyber-defense a key part of theirs?

More vigilance is needed

Many people involved in this area also feel that America is not showing enough vigilance around cyber-attacks. This is not only in terms of government policy but also how the average citizen feels around cyber-attacks from external nations. The potential that these have to impact negatively on everyday life is immense and something that does not seem to be on a lot of people’s agendas. Many cyber experts feel that more awareness should be raised of how critical this issue is, and people should start to be much more vigilant around cyber-attacks in their workplace or home.

Img Source: forbes.com

Could more resources be put into fighting cyber-attacks?

When it comes down to staying safe from cyber-attacks on American systems or businesses, a lot comes down to resources. If the American Government is serious about stopping this kind of threat, then it must put more resources into training people to fight it online and developing more robust systems to protect the US IT infrastructure. By doing this, it will give the cyber-defense sector in the US the money and people it needs to properly see off any external threat.

America could step it up

Since the scandal around the 2016 US presidential election, cyber-attacks have certainly been higher on people’s agendas in Washington. The main question is whether it is high enough and enough is being done to really keep America safe into the future. While there have been steps made towards this, many believe that more could be done to keep the US safe from digital attacks.