Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has campaigned against car title loans, only to see consumers continue to fall victim to them. Now he's urging the Iowa legislature to crack down on these loans, which charge what he called "astronomical and unjustified interest rates."
"Car-title loans are so expensive they just drive many people deeper into debt," Miller said. "On top of that, they pose the major threat of causing people to lose their vehicles as well."
Miller is lobbying the state legislature to stop the abusive loan practice.
"Car-title loans are secured loans, but secured loans should be much cheaper because they are backed by a vehicle as collateral. There is no justification for such astronomical interest rates. The Legislature should prohibit such abusive and unconscionable rates for car-title loans," Miller said.
The Iowa Senate approved a car-title loan law last year that would have capped car-title loan rates at 21 percent - but the bill died when House leaders refused to debate or vote on it.
"It's a simple and fair approach to solve this problem," Miller said. Millers appeal was made in a State Capitol news conference with Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City, who led the effort last year to pass the car-title legislation, and Des Moines Rep. Kevin McCarthy.
"Meanwhile, I hope consumers will resist appeals to get into car-title loans, for the holidays or anytime. We've heard of interest rates up to 360%, and right now there is no limit whatsoever. "It's expensive and it's risky," Miller said.
"For example: If a person borrows $300 for the holidays at 360% interest, he or she will have to pay $44.55 of interest in just fifteen days, and have to pay it again and again each fifteen days, if he or she doesn't pay off the $300 principal," Miller said.
"What's worse, if a payment is missed, the lender can start the process of repossessing the borrower's vehicle. Repossession and loss of transportation to work and health care is a very severe threat to these Iowans."
Miller encouraged consumers to try to work to get ahead by saving small amounts steadily, and, if necessary, by going to banks and credit unions that offer loans at far better rates.