By Grant Hallmark
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.–On Thursday, the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham will host the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPD) first field hearing. This hearing will be primarily about one of the CFPD’s top priorities: Protecting consumers from predatory lenders.
There has been an ongoing debate, both locally and nationally, about the destructive nature of payday lenders. Last November, Birmingham City Council slated a hearing and a vote for a moratorium on title and payday lenders. The moratorium passed easily and the public is mostly in favor of going even further by banning the “alternative financial services.” Of course, the industry is not. They have responded by saying their clients will lose out on much needed loans and will turn to unregulated internet-based lenders.
There is no doubt the Obama administration is strongly against these predatory services. Richard Cordray and the CFPD chose Alabama as the site for the first hearing because our state has one of the highest numbers of payday lenders per capita. Their mission is to educate the public on these deceiving lenders and address questions from the public about their practices.
The ‘Birmingham News’ has Stephen Stetson, a policy analyst for Arise Citizens Policy Project, describing Alabama as the “Wild, Wild West” of payday lending. He continued, saying these companies are basically devices for “stripping wealth from low-income communities.”
Stetson is set to appear on the round table discussion at Thursday’s hearing.