Iowa leaders weigh in onConsumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed action on payday lending industry

On March 26, the CFPB held a field hearing on proposed rules to address the payday loan industry and other small dollar lending institutions such as car title lenders.

The action by the CFPB is the first federal action concerning such lenders since the 2007 act that prohibited payday lenders from taking advantage of members of the military with triple digit interest rates.

In response, and in solidarity with opinion leaders across the country, numerous Iowans weighed in on the rule-making unveiled by the CFPB:

Payday lenders continue to prey on the most vulnerable of society.  It’s time to bring true protection to those that the industry has gorged themselves on for way too long. -Steve Abbott, president, Communications Workers of America – Iowa State Council


Payday lenders are like the wild west of financial institutions.  Thankfully there’s a new sheriff in town – the CFPB – who’s committed to bringing some law and order to an industry that’s been left unchecked until now. -Berkley Bedell, former U.S. Congressman


I encourage the CFPB to act to protect consumers and families living in or near poverty from predatory financial products, especially payday loans. -Tom Chapman, Iowa Catholic Conference


The CFPB needs to be aggressive in its position in regard to payday loan companies.  These folks play on the circumstances, and take advantage of the most vulnerable of our society.  I encourage the CFPB to rein in the abuses of these predators.  -Mark Cooper, president, South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO


For too long predatory lenders have had free rein to take advantage of people when they are desperate and therefore most vulnerable. Every citizen, but especially our military veterans and service members, should not be put in this position. We all deserve better and we applaud any action taken to curb this despicable practice. -Sue Dinsdale, executive director, Iowa Citizen Action Network


Payday lenders and the big banks that finance their high interest rates they charge consumers needs to stop.  Their business is nothing more than a modern day cartel.  We should stop protecting these lenders who prey on the anxious middle class by enacting tougher state and federal laws.  In the meantime, the CFPB is the consumer’s only protection. – Jack Hatch, former State Senator and 2014 Democratic Gubernatorial candidate


Payday lenders are extremely exploitive in their lending and prey upon working people who struggle paycheck to paycheck.  All too often, hidden penalties lead to garnishments for those that are unable to pay back their $500 loans. The big banks restrict financing to these same people and then loan the money out the back door through another company (e.g., EZ Money). The CFPB needs to find ways to prevent harsh penalties and garnishments. -Joe Enriquez Henry, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens – Iowa


Payday lenders have operated in the shadows for far too long, and it’s about time we had a “cop on the beat” that’s looking out for everyday folks across the country and cracking down on predatory loan sharking that rivals mobster behavior. We applaud this effort by the CFPB and urge them to be as bold as their charter allows to regulate this toxic industry. -Cherie Mortice, board president, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement


Every way you look at it payday lenders are bad for our communities.  Their whole business model depends on families getting caught into a vicious debt cycle, renewing loans over and over again. We as a country can be and are better than this. We can create just alternatives for our neighbors. -Chris Schwartz, Organizer, Americans for Democratic Action


Payday lenders don’t help Iowa families build wealth, they bleed our communities dry.  In the absence of state legislation, it’s refreshing to see the CFPB take a stand for people here in Iowa and across the country -Matt Sinovic, executive director, Progress Iowa

The Iowa state legislature has failed to pass meaningful reform to the payday loan industry in recent years despite a broad coalition of groups, representing Republicans and Democrats alike, rallying behind measures in both the Senate and House. In the absence of state legislation addressing the worst abuses of payday lenders, Iowa CCI members and others see action by the CFPB as a needed step in the right direction.


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Omar Gaytan, CCI member , worked on the renovation of the Birdland Park shelters and was never paid by Paplow Roofing, the company that the city of Des Moines contracted to do the renovation. This company has a notorious record of judgments and wage claims against it, yet the city of Des Moines gave Paplow Roofing the project because it was the lowest bid (it is state law to take the lowest bid).

Wage theft and misclassification are rampant on construction projects. Many companies who offer the lowest bid may be able to do so because they do not pay a living wage, or do not pay at all.

Employers should not steal wages or exploit their workers, yet we find this is common practice. Taxpayer money should not go to companies that do not do right by their workers. That’s where the responsible bidder questionnaire comes in!

Iowa Code 26 states that all public projects must go to the “lowest, responsive, responsible bidder”. However, there is no definition of what “responsible” means, and no real way to determine who is or isn’t a responsible bidder.

What is the Responsible Bidder Questionnaire?

  •  a document with a series of questions on a company’s information ranging from number of employees to whether it has an apprenticeship program or encourages unionization
  • a way to check up on the history of a company to determine whether it is a responsible company that treats employees well, or not

Any local entity or city that adopts such a questionnaire uses it to determine who is eligible to be chosen as the lowest bidder on a public project.

CCI members want workers to be protected from wage theft and exploitation, and taxpayer money to go to good companies that do right by their workers. This is why CCI members want a responsible bidder questionnaire that would serve to check companies’ records and define what constitutes a responsible company that is worthy of working on public projects in Iowa.

Responsible contracting protects conditions for workers, rewards ethical companies and weeds out unscrupulous companies from highly profitable projects. So, the Des Moines City Council recently approved the questionnaire!



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Click here for the latest in the Future of Work Campaign.

Had a bad experience with a contractor? Let us know! We are creating a Contractor’s guide and need your input.

Read more on the Future of Work in America from our National Affiliate National People’s Action.



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Worker Justice Clinics

This community coffee hour is a monthly gathering for workers to create community, get trained on their rights at work, and learn to take the first steps towards organizing in their workplace. Join us!

Check out what a clinic is like, here.


Thanks for your work to focus #SharkWeek on the financial sharks we all want to stop!

Your signatures called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to issue broad and strong regulations on the consumer lending industry. Payday and installment lenders rip off  hardworking Americans everyday by charging outrageous interest rates  – often exceeding 300 or 400%!

Didn’t sign yet? Find the petition here!

That’s why we dedicated Shark Week to telling the stories of loan sharks and payday borrowers. The newspapers ate it up; check out the coverage!

The Hill: Activists to unleash ‘Shark Week’ attack on payday lending industry

The Nation: This week, Look At the Real Sharks: Payday Lenders

Yahoo Finance: Payday lenders face scrutiny for abusive lending

Yahoo Finance: The reign of payday lenders may soon be over

Chicago RedEye: ‘Shark Week’ protests fishy lenders

#SharkWeek didn’t end when Discovery’s Shark Week ended – the week’s activities were complimented by an in-depth investigative series on payday lending’s devastating effects on families in Iowa. All of this culminated in the first ever Des Moines Register editorial on the payday lending issue and the need for lawmakers to take bold action!

Des Moines Register: It’s time lawmakers deal with payday loans

Des Moines Register: Payday lenders burying Iowans under a pile of debt

Des Moines Register: Federal action against payday loans picks up

There is still time to make sure the CFPB knows you want strong regulations against this predatory industry. Sign the petition today

Stay tuned for when the legislature comes back into session in January 2015! 


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Payday and installment lenders rip off hardworking Americans everyday by charging outrageous interest  – 300 to 400% annual rate.

Find out what you need to know with this: PayDay loan fact sheet

They set up shop in our backyards and on the internet to rake in millions a year by peddling false promises and trapping families in debt. And they prey on people who can least afford it: the elderly, the poor and communities of color.

The industry likes to say that they’re providing a service, that people need credit – but nobody needs back-of-the bus credit at these rates. No one in our community should get predatory terms because of their race, their address or their income; we all deserve a fair deal.


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For the first time in history, Congress has given a federal agency the authority to regulate the consumer loan industry, including payday loans.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is currently considering new rules for the consumer credit industry industry, but while Congress won’t let them set an interest rate cap, but there is a lot the CFPB can do to crack down on the worst abuses of the payday, installment, and car title loan sharks.

CCI, sisters and brothers in the NPA network, and others are fighting back by demanding common sense regulation to put an end to predatory lending.

Click here to tell the CFPB to stand up for American families!

Watch John Oliver and Sarah Silverman tell it like it is about the payday loan industry (warning:adult language), and read this comprehensive piece on this shark of an industry in the Waterloo Courier.


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In a unanimous vote Tuesday afternoon, the Dubuque City Council passed an ordinance to restrict where new payday lenders can locate.

Dubuque became the ninth city in Iowa to pass an ordinance!

The ordinance, modeled after ordinances passed in Iowa City and Ames, will severely restrict where any new lender can locate within the city.

Karla Braig, Dubuque City Council woman said during the city council meeting on Monday, “I’m proud we’re going to add Dubuque [to the list of cities with ordinances]”.  She also said she hopes Dubuque sends a message to the legislature to “get off their behinds” and do something to crack down on payday lenders. A similar sentiment was stated by other city council members.

The state legislature, not cities, has the authority to regulate interest rates on payday loans, which currently average just under 400% APR. Despite strong grassroots support for interest rate caps, the legislature has failed to bring a bill to the governor’s desk. This leaves cities to address the problem through zoning, with Davenport next on the list of cities poised to take action.

Des Moines was the first city in Iowa to pursue ordinances to control the growth of payday lenders in May of 2010. Since then, the state has seen over a 20% decrease in payday lenders operating in Iowa.

CCI members will continue to push for interest rate caps on payday loans at the state level in next year’s legislative session. Until then, CCI vows to pursue all tools, including zoning ordinances, to curb the abusive practices of payday lenders.

 What can you do right now?

Sign this petition to stop more payday lenders!

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently considering new rules for the consumer credit industry – they have the opportunity to crack down on the worst abuses of the payday, installment, and car title loan sharks.

Sign the petition telling CFPB Director Richard Cordray we need rules that are broad enough to cover the whole industry and strong enough to crack down on the worst abuses.

Take action now, and stay tuned for the next step!

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Oil Pipeline Will Be Met With Resistance


Iowa CCI members pledge to fight corporate plan to build another environmentally dangerous oil and gas pipeline in Iowa


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members say everyday Iowans will fight back and resist any attempt to build a corporate oil and gas pipeline in Iowa that could threaten air and water quality and contribute to catastrophic climate change.

“Any attempt to build an oil and natural gas pipeline in Iowa will be met with resistance,” said Gary Larsen, an independent family farmer and Iowa CCI member with a wind turbine on his farm outside of Exira in Audubon county.  “Catastrophic climate change is already impacting Iowa and we have to start keeping fossil fuels in the ground where they belong instead of threatening the air, water, and land of thousands of everyday Iowans just so a few energy corporations can profit.”

“We need to start conserving energy and taxing these big corporations for the pollution they cause so we can reinvest in alternative energy like wind and solar power.”

Iowa CCI is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.   

Oil pipeline across Iowa proposed, Des Moines Register, July 10, 2014