It was a heated topic in South Dakota that brought out the claws on both sides.
Initiated Measure 21 put a 36% cap on interest rates putting an end to astronomical rates – which supporters said was taking advantage of the financially vulnerable.
“All of the payday lenders have moved out of the state. They've left us. They're gone. They're no longer infecting our communities anymore,” said Steve Hildebrand, IM 21 supporter.
After IM21 passed – one after another, short term lenders closed their doors. With the storefronts gone, Hildebrand says that temptation is no longer right in front of the vulnerable as they drive by.
“They're looking at other ways to do it -- getting a second job, looking at any alternative but to borrow money at 574%,” said Hildebrand.
Today, more than 50 payday lending stores have closed in Sioux Falls. But while these payday lenders can no longer operate at an interest rate higher than 36% in South Dakota, they still exist outside of our state.
“They can be an internet operation outside of South Dakota that still takes advantage of South Dakotans and we just hope people stay away from those operations. Most of the times, they're bad companies that are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting people, vulnerable people and people should just stay away from it. Do not ever go online and borrow money from payday lenders because you will regret it for the rest of your life,” said Hildebrand.
“There's still a lot of ways to get money,” said Breck Miller, community relations coordinator for Lutheran Social Services Center for Financial Resources.
Miller worries people still turn to the Internet. A simple Google search brings up pages of payday loans and short-term loans.
“In some respects, it's almost easier now because people are more focused on online – which they can do from home, rather than having to go to a brick and mortar location,” said Miller.
However, Miller does thin the passing of IM21 is opening the door for more discussion about financial responsibility.
“We try to direct them then, instead of just finding these short term band-aids, let's look at other options. Let's look at actually figuring out where your money is going and what we can change to make this more of a sustainable approach than going out for the short term lending,” said Miller.
Miller says while it may be overwhelming at first, it takes discipline. But he says it is possible to turn your life around.
“While it's easier and can cover you the short term, look at the big picture -- what can we fix, what can we address so that we don't have to keep going back and continue to pay whatever interest rate on short term lending,” said Miller.
“Borrow money from anybody but a payday lender,” said Hildebrand.
Miller says don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are resources to turn to including talking to a credit union, Lutheran Social Services and Minnehaha County Human Services.