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COVID-19 financial warning: Consumers and banks should stay away from payday loans

For the foreseeable future, ‘normal’ life will be indefinitely suspended due to the global pandemic known as the coronavirus. Record-breaking employment layoffs in the month of March resulted in the Department of Labor reporting that 10.4 million consumers lost their jobs and filed for unemployment compensation. As medical experts continue to track the virus, the New York Times reported at least 214,461 known infections and at least 4,800 related deaths.

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Black America's Housing Crisis:

More renters than homeowners, homeless population jumps 12%

No matter who you are, or where you live, there's a central concern that links consumers all over the country: the ever-rising cost of living. For many consumers, the combined costs of housing, transportation, food, and utilities leave room for little else from take-home pay. From Boston west to Seattle, and from Chicago to Miami and parts in between, the rising cost of living is particularly challenging in one area: housing. Both homeowners and renters alike today cope as best they can just to have a roof over their families' heads.

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Don’t let small dollar loans ruin your holidays

In this wonderful time of the year when family and friends gather in good cheer to celebrate the holidays, nearly everyone has a number of lists. From greeting cards to shopping for gifts, decorations and more, lists are made and reviewed to keep pace with the barrage of seasonal activities. But if holiday lists seem bigger than budgets, turning to a high-interest, “small dollar” loan can turn joy and merriment into a financial quagmire. The good news is that holiday financial hangovers that predatory lenders give, do not need to be a part of your celebrations. Just keep walking or driving past the brightly-colored signs advertising high-interest, small dollar loans. Both payday and car title loans can provide quick cash; but the harms these loans create will likely linger well past the winter’s cold. In truth, these predatory loans often lead to consumers paying more in interest and fees than for the money borrowed. Research by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) has found that predatory payday loans drain $4.1 billion in fees from consumers annually — borrowers who typically are unable to fully repay the original loan, usually in two weeks’ time. With average annual interest rates averaging 391 percent, 75 percent of all payday loans go to borrowers with more than 10 loans a year.

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The state of lending in communities of color

Over 53 million consumers unbanked or underbanked, CRA at risk after 41 Years

One of the most reliable measures of a community’s economic vitality is convenient access to full-service banking. Regardless of whether a community is urban, suburban or rural, both consumers and local businesses rely on brick and mortar bank branches for a wide array of products and services. New research that measures how well banks serve communities found that America’s access to banking expanded from 2015 to 2017 – except when it comes to more than 53 million Black and Latinix consumers or others with low incomes or less education.

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Public service loan forgiveness program fails to forgive

Across the nation and multiple generations, student loan debt now surpasses $1.5 trillion. The anxiety shared by borrowers from all walks of life seeking ways to lift this unsustainable consumer debt affects multiple life dimensions. In some cases, these burdensome debts threaten the future of America’s middle class. Two recent developments hold potential for struggling consumers. On September 28, the independent and nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO) released findings on the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Eligible student loan borrowers who have dedicated their careers to public service and met other requirements, such as 10 years of qualifying payments, can have their loan balances forgiven. The first step towards forgiveness requires that interested borrowers are initially screened to certify their employment and loans meet threshold criteria. Once certified, borrowers submit a loan forgiveness application for a final check before forgiveness is approved.