Car Title Loan Reform

By: Mary Pulley Email
By: Mary Pulley Email

Senator Mark Obenshain is trying to put restrictions on the car title loan process where people borrow money with high interest rates based on the equity in their car.

Obenshain's bill would cap title loan rates at 20 percent. Some lending companies say these and other caps might put them out of business.

Obenshain says, "Folks in this industry who are charging 325, 350 or more percent interest per year, they've got a great racket."

His hopes to reform title loans has not come without some criticism.

When asked about the people that get these kinds of loans, Jamie Fulmer, lending company Advance America, says, "These are honest, hard working middle-income Americans and like anybody they get caught between one pay check and another with some type of unbudgeted or unexpected expense, and they need a little help."

While some Virginians depend on these loans, Obenshain says there are other options.

"There are lots of alternatives out there, and the market place has developed and continues to develop to provide all types of opportunities for credit," says Obenshain.

The senator's bill would limit interest amounts that companies could charge and restrict the amount of money people could receive to half the value of the car. It would also require lenders to register with the State Corporation Commission.

However, lending companies like Advance America say caps to payday loans and title lending could put them out of business.

"Overhead costs, payroll cost, and credit risks on a $100 loan, and charge a $1.38, you can't cover any of your basic costs, and so it breaks down to ten cents a day," says Fulmer.

Obenshain sees it differently.

He says, "I would be shocked if the kind of cap that I've proposed in this bill would put somebody out of business."


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