Want out of a payday loan? If a payday lender is not properly registered with the state, a bill approved by the House on Friday would void its loans and ban collecting any principal or interest.
HB459, approved by the House on a 60-11 vote and sent to the Senate, also requires payday lenders to report some additional information to the state every year but stops requiring some data that raised questions about how many loans they are making.
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, sponsor of HB459, said most payday lenders with stores in Utah are properly registered, but some shadier ones operating online are not. He said the provision to void loans of unregistered lenders puts teeth in requirements to register.
The bill also would require payday lenders to begin reporting to the state the average annual interest rate charged for loans, how many borrowers choose to exercise a right to rescind loans within 24 hours and how many complaints are filed against lenders who are registered and those who are not.
But it would remove a current requirement that they report how many loans are not paid off before they reach their legal extension limit of 10 weeks. Last year, Utah payday lenders reported that 99.9 of their loans were paid off in that time.
Critics said that is fishy because Utah small-claims court records show that payday lenders sue an average of 11,600 loan defaulters a year. If that truly represents only 0.1 percent of all loans, that would mean payday lenders make a whopping 11.6 million loans a year.
Frank Pignanelli, a lobbyist for the payday loan industry, testified earlier that many lenders were confused by wording and figured they technically had been paid for the loans because they collect post-dated checks for them but many of those bounce and lead to lawsuits. Dunnigan said deleting the problematic measure is wise until better wording can be developed for it to avoid confusion.
Payday loans in Utah often charge around 520 percent on an annual basis, or $20 for every $100 loaned for two weeks. Reports last year show some charged up to 2,294 percent annual interest or $50 on a $100 loan for two weeks.