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Beware of fast cash
Okinawa (July 14, 2006) -- The Department of Defense lists
payday lending in its top ten issues of concern for military
families. What was once a relatively minor issue for service
members living in Okinawa has become a greater threat with the
rapid increase of payday lenders using the internet.
"The growing problem here on Okinawa is, although there is only
one payday lender on island, many people are consulting the
internet to get payday loans," said Allison Green, the director
of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Okinawa.
Payday lending falls under the auspices of predatory lending.
This practice involves a lender taking advantage of a borrower
who is looking for fast and easy money.
"Many people going to payday lenders do not understand the terms
and often end up paying up to 400 percent interest or more on
the initial loan," Green said.
Active duty military personnel are three times more likely than
civilians to take out a payday loan, according to the Center for
Responsible Lending, an organization opposing predatory lending.
The questionable business practice is increasing so much that
the Under Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations and
Commandant of the Marine Corps have called on military leaders
to take immediate, decisive action against predatory lending
practices, according to the CRL.
In a joint senate assembly earlier this year, Sgt. Maj. Wayne R.
Bell, sergeant major for Marine Corps Bases West, implored the
senate to make predatory lending practices illegal.
During his testimony, Bell spoke about the strain that debts put
on military families and the unfair penalties imposed.
"We ask that you help us put a stop to predatory payday lending
practices directed against those who defend our nation's
freedom," he said during the assembly. "Our Marines deserve
What is important for service members to understand is that
there are many resources available to those needing financial
assistance, Green said.
The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society helps Marines and sailors
with everything from interest free emergency loans to completing
a budget, she said.
"When you do a budget, you can see exactly where your money is
going," Green said. "If you have debt, we can point you in the
right direction. Whether or not it's an emergency, people should
come to us even if they're not sure we can help them."
During the month of June, NMCRS, Okinawa saw three cases in
which service members were involved with payday lenders, Green
said. The society assisted these individuals with more than
$8,000 collectively in interest free loans and grants to meet
their emergency financial needs and get them out of debt with
the predatory lenders..
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