WASHINGTON — Each month, more than 200,000 needy U.S. households take out what’s advertised as a brief loan.
Many have run out of money between paychecks. So they obtain a “payday” loan to tide them over. Problem is, such loans can often bury them in fees and debts. Their bank accounts can be closed, their cars repossessed.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules Thursday to protect Americans from stumbling into what it calls a “debt trap.” At the heart of the plan is a requirement that payday lenders verify borrowers’ incomes before approving a loan.
The government is seeking to set standards for a multibillion-dollar industry that has historically been regulated only at the state level.
“The idea is pretty common sense: If you lend out money, you have to first make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back,” President Barack Obama said in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama. “But if you’re making that profit by trapping hard-working Americans into a vicious cycle of debt, you’ve got to find a new business model.”