Religious Leaders Speak Out Against PayDay Loans

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  A group of religious leaders and activists wants tot take on payday loan companies. They call them predatory lenders and claim poor people who use them get trapped in a cycle of debt.

On Tuesday, they rallied at 40th & Main. There are about five payday loan stores within a couple of blocks in that part of midtown Kansas City. The group CCO, Communities Creating Opportunity wants to focus on economic justice. They're calling attention to two ballot initiatives, raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour and capping payday loan interest rates.

They say interest rates can get higher than 400 percent and they say the government should have the right to regulate that. One of Tuesday's speakers is a national leader supporting the payday loan regulations. He is New Jersey's former secretary of state.

"The the pay day loan industry needs to know we believe they have the right to exist but 36 percent interest is sufficient for a lender to charge a borrower," said Dr. DeForest Soaries.

After the rally, they gathered signatures on petitions to get those initiatives on the ballot. The payday loan industry claims it's just filling a need in the community. They say banks won't lend small amounts that their customers need and they say the new regulations would put them out of business.

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