January 27, 2015
By Mauricio Marin
Channel 8 News

LAS VEGAS -- A group of people protested the practices of payday loan companies outside of a Money Tree store on Tuesday.

They were demonstrating against what many call "unfair" business practices. Currently in Nevada, there isn't a limit on how much interest a payday loan company can charge, so activist are pushing to change the law.

Jose Matias said his family used to turn to payday loans when they were in desperate need of money to pay their bills.

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LAS VEGAS -- A group of people protested the practices of payday loan companies outside of a Money Tree store on Tuesday.

They were demonstrating against what many call "unfair" business practices. Currently in Nevada, there isn't a limit on how much interest a payday loan company can charge, so activist are pushing to change the law.

Jose Matias said his family used to turn to payday loans when they were in desperate need of money to pay their bills.

"Sometimes it's hard to cover the total cost of everything when it's the first of the month.  You have to pay the rent, all of the bills, and you still have to put food on the table," Matias said.

Demonstrators said payday lenders take advantage of vulnerable people in the community.

"They charge up to 500% in interest, and they have predatory practices of going after consumers who are unable to pay back their loans, said Laura Martin, protesting payday loans. “They're taking too much wealth out of our community and causing fear."

Matias said he joined the protest on Tuesday because he wanted to prevent others from getting into debt from loans with high-interest rates.

Barbara Buckley, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said the loans are designed for maximum profit at the expense of poor people.

"They make their money by having people pay interest rates that are higher than the amount they borrowed,” according to Buckley.

Buckley said she was able to help people get their money back from bad loans in the past.

"We helped a 98-year-old woman who took out a payday loan to eat. There were a number of violations the company made, so they were forced to refund her money, but she died the day before she received it,” said Buckley.

Nevada only has a few laws in place that regulate payday loans.

“They can't threaten to imprison anyone and when someone defaults on the loan, the interest rate has to drop.”

But according to Buckley, this isn't enough, and state lawmakers need to do more to protect payday loan consumers.

“We haven't done what a lot of other states are doing which is regulate the amount of interest on the initial loan from the first day it was obtained."