KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A $2,500 loan may cost a Kansas City man nearly $20,000. It’s all because of a payday type loan with an annual interest rate the finance company says is in the triple digits. James Miller says he took out the small dollar loan to help a family member. But with an APR of 276 percent, Miller fell behind.
“Foolishly. Foolishly. Foolishly,” is how Miller describes his actions when he decided to put his 2012 Dodge Avenger up for collateral when he needed some quick cash.
“I didn’t sit down and really discuss my options. That was my, that was on me,” he said. “I didn’t really sit down and focus on what needed to be done because I was looking at my family first.”
Miller took the loan out in June to take care of his cousin who was dying of cancer. The finance company warned him.
“She said, ‘Well, don’t fall behind’ because, at that time, she said, ‘the interest will get you,'” he said.
The little things added up. Making it more difficult, Miller also battles stage four liver cancer. With a monthly loan payment of more than $1,000 due to a high interest rate, falling behind wasn’t hard.
“It just snowballed. You know, 1,000 dollars a month, oh my goodness,” he said. “Plus, things that come your way. If you get caught up, you in a bind. You get caught in a bind.”
On Sunday, Miller’s car was repossessed.
“They did it so slick. My wife when out the door, they hollered out the truck, ‘We repossessed’. He didn’t stop. He didn’t knock on the door,” said Miller.
He says the loss is more than just a car.
“It catches me, makes me want to stick my head in the ground,” he said.
He’s now struggling to find a ride to his chemo treatments and he doesn’t want anyone else to find themselves in the same situation.
“Don’t even get involved… unless, ohhhhh…. you’re caught under a rock,” he said.
According to a group called Communities Creating Opportunity, the payday and title loan industry is a lucrative business in Kansas City because Missouri has the fewest and most liberal restrictions on payday lenders than any other state. They say the average payday loan rate in Missouri is over 400 percent. That group was trying to get a three percent interest cap onto this November’s ballot but came up short.