Loan Shark of the Year award given
March 2, 2006 - Fresno, California
Money Mart was given the "Loan Shark of the Year" award for their predatory loan practices in the Fresno area. A brief ceremony was held at the companies Manchester Mall facility as members from ACORN, a local community group, handed the manager a certificate and miniature shark to symbolize Money Mart's ruthless business practices.
In a press release, ACORN said they would present Money Mart with a "Loan Shark of the Year" Award for "gouging customers through predatory payday lending, criminal check-cashing fees, and rip-off refund loans."
"This company's entire business is based on gouging people in need," said ACORN member Jamie Wilson "and we aren't going to take it any more".
The ACORN press release continues "the interest rates on Money Mart's payday loans range from 266% to 912%. While Money Mart says payday loans help people in a one-time emergency, ACORN charges that payday loans get people deeper in debt and that Money Mart's profits come from customers who can't pay the loans back and so are forced to repeatedly renew the loans and pay additional interest.
A $300 payday loan from Money Mart costs $352.50. If after two weeks the customer can't pay the full amount, they pay the $52.50 finance charge and Money Mart rolls the loan over for two more weeks. If, as in many cases, this continues for three months, the customer will have paid Money Mart $341 in interest and still owe the entire $352.50 loan amount.
Money Mart is the second largest payday lender in the country, behind Advance America, and the second largest check casher, behind ACE Cash Express.
After the Loan Shark of the Year presentation, Manchester Mall security descended upon the scene and Director of Security William Steproe told this Indymedia reporter that they had a policy against anyone taking photos in the mall. About the same time an angry Money Mart manager demanded that the photos be deleted or she would file a lawsuit. When Steproe was asked to provide a copy of the mall's policy on free speech and access to the mall by the media, he said there was not a written policy. "The policy is just given verbally," Steproe said. The members of ACORN and this Indymedia reporter were not intimidated.
The Fresno action was one of 30 held across the U.S. and Canada today.
San Francisco Indymedia: Independent Media Center, Mike Rhodes, Contributing Writer
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