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February 11, 2008

Payday Lending


Lawmakers in Virginia, Kentucky and Colorado are considering tightening up the way payday lending institutions conduct business. These short term loans are designed to help people make ends meet between paychecks, but the interest rates they carry can veer upwards to 400%. As a result, many people get sucked into a vortex of never-ending debt.

Lisa Engelkins found herself needing money all the time in 1998. She was a single mom making $7 an hour at one of her jobs, and it just wasn't enough. So she went to a payday lender and before she knew it, was trapped paying off the same loan for nearly 2 years. She eventually clawed her way out of debt and is now a credit and housing counselor in Winston-Salem, NC.

Yet the issue may be more complex than some observers think. Alba Onofrio used to authorize the kinds of loans people like Lisa needed. While Alba didn't like the fact that such loans can overburden people, she makes the point to Dick Gordon that some people have no other option, and that imperfect help is arguably better than none at all.


Colleen Barbus was close to her grandfather, or Grandpap as she used to call him. He was the family protector and had a wonderful sense of humor. So when he became terminally ill on the cusp of her long-awaited trip to Chile, she needed some convincing by him to continue with her plans.

Four days into her trip, she got the call that he had died. She and her friends were en route to Santiago, and all she wanted to do was sleep. But a series of odd misadventures snowballed into delaying their getting back to the apartment where they were staying.

Once they finally reached the apartment, they found it had been robbed. Had they arrived on time, they may have encountered armed thieves. Colleen believes that it was her grandfather's spirit at play which helped spare them from a potentially lethal situation.

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