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Military personnel prime targets for loans

July 9, 2006 - Pensacola, Florida

Active-duty personnel are three times more likely than civilians to take out a payday loan, according to the Center of Responsible Lending. They have a steady income from the government, often with little to spare.

That might explain why cash advance centers are widespread on Navy Boulevard.

At least three cash-advance centers are located within a mile of the 400 block of Navy Boulevard, near the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

"There is inevitable evidence that payday lenders cluster in military and urban inner city areas," said Christopher Peterson, co-author of the Ohio State Law Journal study and a law professor at the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Recently, Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Senator Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, amended Senate Bill 2766 -- the Defense Authorization bill -- to include protections for military families from predatory lending abuses. The bill passed the full Senate a couple weeks ago.

The Talent-Nelson Amendment would limit annual interest rates to 36 percent for loans made to military families.

Jamie Fulmer, spokesman for Advance America, the largest provider of payday cash advance in the United States -- which owns about one third of the at least 30 centers in the Pensacola Bay Area -- said the company never has targeted military personnel.

"We try to locate our centers in high traffic retail areas, near major grocery store chains, where there is convenient access to our center," Fulmer said.

"We serve folks who fit the hard-working middle American demographics."

News Source

Pensacola News Journal, Polyana da Costa, Staff Writer

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