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Business and Economy

Maine Activists Bid 'Payday Lender' a Not-so-Fond Farewell

Tom Porter
Activists demonstrate outside Ace Cash Express to urge federal regulators to crack down on so-called "predatory lenders."

PORTLAND, Maine - A handful of activists gathered in downtown Portland Thursday afternoon to urge federal regulators to take action against so-called "predatory lenders."

They stood outside the offices of Ace Cash Express, a payday lender that's preparing to shut its doors and leave the state. Andrew Francis, from the Maine People's Alliance, says the company last year reached a $10 million settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following charges that it harassed borrowers.

"We're certainly not sad to see them leave," Francis said. "We believe payday lenders do not help our community in any way by charging short-term high interest loans that lock people into a lot of debt."

Payday lenders, he says, often charge an annual rate of 300 percent for a typical payday loan. Maine is one of 24 states that regulates payday lenders by capping the interest rates, and Francis says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should follow their example and pass rules to protect the millions of Americans trapped in a cycle of debt.