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Efforts add depth to IUSA TODAYI payday loan update
WASHINGTON (8/5/09)--Efforts by the credit union movement Monday resulted in a second, more comprehensive and more positive article in Tuesday's USA TODAY about credit unions' short-term loans or payday loan alternatives. The newspaper received a number of comments from consumers questioning an article in Monday's issue, which quoted a consumer group as saying that some loans at credit unions weren't a good deal. Many thought the article was prompted by banks; others criticized basing the article on a single credit union example. Tuesday's article, which features broader credit union perspectives, included Credit Union Development Educator Lois Kitsch responding to the consumer group's criticism. Kitsch is program coordinator of the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) REAL Solutions program. The program helps low- and moderate-income people with their finances so they can accumulate more wealth. Some credit unions working with REAL Solutions offer short-term loans or payday loan alternatives to help get people off the payday loan debt cycle. NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin spent part of the day Monday providing background perspective about the program to personal finance writer Sandra Block, author of both articles. In the second article, Block wrote that credit unions provide options to payday loans "in response to concerns that many low-income credit union members were relying heavily on payday loans. "Ideally, a credit union loan should offer a low-cost alternative to a payday loan, and many do." But she also advised scrutinizing the details. Credit unions' short-term loan programs featured in the article, included Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Prospera CU, Appleton, Wis. Kitsch noted that virtually all credit unions offering the loans prohibit rollovers, many give members longer time to repay their loans, and many tie their short-term loans to financial education programs to help members out of the debt cycle. Monday, the Credit Union National Association worked to help leagues and credit unions address requests from other media responding to the initial USA TODAY article. Scott Earl, CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League, told a local station KTAR Monday that borrowers come out ahead by using a credit union payday loan alternative--even with minimal fees that cover the cost of staff time with the loan. "If you borrow money for 30 days versus borrowing it for five years, the staff time to get that done is still about the same," Earl said. He also noted that credit union loans work to help the member boost their credit score. NCUF also is appealing to credit union development educators to spread the good news about credit unions by posting comments on any column related to credit unions, using the newspaper's Twitter account, and weighing in on the discussions on blogs and listservs. It also advised putting a human face on such complex issues, by using first-person stories from members and entering them in REAL Solutions' video contest, and noted it has a Payday Lending Toolkit with examples of credit unions offering sound payday lending programs.
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