Author By John Sandman
Robert Bradley, of Jamaica, Queens, a 64-year-old hospital worker, had been low on cash and neglected to pay the first ticket, then the second – and soon he was worried that his car would get towed. “I took out a payday loan thinking that would solve the problem,” he says. He started with a single loan for $300 from PDL Loans, also known as Piggy Bank Cash Loans. The company’s address is in Nevis, West Indies, but Bradley easily found it on the Internet. Then, as now, the site promised rapid approval – and money in his checking account in a matter of hours.
That was in . As is often the case with payday borrowers, Bradley’s finances were already fragile. He was focused on the cash he needed then, not the consequences he’d face later. He paid off the first loan on July 9 – $390 for a $300 loan – and took out another $350 on e lender. This time PDL seemed to withdraw payments from his account at random, and never enough to pay off the loan. As costs for that loan ballooned, he needed even more money. He took out a third loan in August, which led to two more in September. By December he had taken out a total of 11 loans from 10 different online lenders.
Bradley thought each loan would be straightforward. “It was supposed to be a one-shot deal,” he says. “I got the money in one shot, I’m gonna pay it off in one shot. It wasn’t supposed to go on month after month.” Bradley, who received his paycheck via direct deposit, expected each lender to electronically deduct the full balance of his loan from his checking account two weeks after the loan was made. But by his account, based on a review of his bank records, each lender withdrew less than the full amount of the loan, making successive deductions that were never enough to bring his balances to zero. To Bradley, the withdrawals had no rhyme or reason, and they had the effect of pushing him further into the hole as fees, penalties, and interest piled up.
“They were taking just the interest, then they would come back and do the same thing [again],” he says. “They didn’t touch principle.”
One by one, as he got behind, the calls started coming in: He’d paid $880 on a $300 loan from AmeriLoan Credit, but the lender said he still owed $550. He’d paid $1,225 on a $500 loan from Advance Me Today, which had PO Box in San Jose, Costa Rica – its Website no longer lists one – but the lender claimed he owed another $550.
Payday Loans, Illegal on the Street, Thrive in New York’s Cyberspace
By G Services Inc., a corporation chartered by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, wanted $250 more after he’d already paid $945 on a $400 loan. GECC Loan (also doing business as Cash Direct Express), CCS Loan Disbursement (also doing business as Community Credit Services), Sure Advance Loan, Tior Capital, Loan Shop, and My Cash Now were all calling him at home and at work, though he never reached anyone who could answer questions about his accounts. By February, he had borrowed a total of $4,445 and had paid back $8,240. Altogether, his lenders said still he owed another $4,134.
By the time Bradley sought help to escape his snowballing financial disaster, he had closed his checking account, destroying a 20-year relationship with his bank. “I had nothing against the bank,” he says. “I just wanted to stop these electronic personal payday loans Sandusky OH withdrawals that weren’t going to pay off the loan. And the bank was taking out fees when the loan payments didn’t go through.”