WASHINGTON–A consumer advocacy group is reporting its examination of comment letters submitted to the CFPB related to a payday loan proposal found more than 7,000 “pro-payday comments used suspiciously duplicative language.” The comments represent more than 27% of the total comments, according to Allied Progress.
At issue are rules previously put in place by the CFPB that include various consumer protections with short-term, small-dollar loans, better known as payday loans. The agency is now looking to dial back some of those rules.
According to a statement from Allied Progress, it is calling on CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger to respond with “extreme skepticism to comments likely manufactured by the payday industry, including the over 200 comments from purported borrowers who all claimed verbatim that a payday loan was ‘needed to replace my hot water tank.’”
Allied Progress said the payday industry has “a history of using deceptive tactics” to push law and policymakers to support or oppose” regulations, including the use of “fake ‘personal’ stories.”
“The CFPB has the responsibility of evaluating comments on its proposed rule on their merits. But based on hundreds of comments already submitted in support of industry that use identical phrasing to tell supposedly ‘personal’ stories, it’s clear the rule making process has been tainted and tough scrutiny is warranted,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesperson for Allied Progress. “What we don’t want to see is a situation where hundreds of copy-and-pasted phony sentiments are used to justify the Trump administration’s final payday rule that could put millions of Americans at risk of financial ruin.”
Among the report’s key findings:
- At least 7,128 comments submitted In support of the CFPB’s proposed payday rule contain specific duplicative language, more than 27% of the total comments.
- At least 214 comments claim, verbatim, that the borrower took out payday loans because the “needed to replace (their) hot water tank,” or their appliances “needed to be repaired and eventually replaced.”
- At least 221 comments claim, verbatim, “I have a long commute to work and it’s better for me financially to borrow from Cash Connection so that I can still make it to work than to not take care of my car and not lose my job because of absences.”