At long last, shark week has come—that time of year when bloodthirsty predators get a moment in the media spotlight. Only it’s not the shark week you’re thinking of.
In time with the Discovery Channel’s week of programming that portrays intelligent and social animals as the vicious butchers of the sea, the National People’s Action (NPA), a grassroots coalition, is launching a campaign to highlight the payday loans that devour millions of Americans in a “devastating cycle of debt” every year.
From July 6-10, under the banners #SharkWeek and #StopTheDebtTrap, NPA will publish stories of “loan shark attack survivors”; circulate a petition calling for an end to the most deceptive and abusive lending practices; and hold on-the-ground events in 11 states, among other actions.
“The most dangerous sharks in America aren’t found in the sea,” NPA said on Monday. “They’re the payday loan sharks lurking on neighborhood corners and on the Internet and they offer small dollar loans that take a big bite out of family budgets with interest rates averaging roughly 300 percent.”
In addition to those kinds of dizzying interest rates, payday loans also use “deceptive terms, automatic ‘rollovers’, [and] staggering fees” to drain borrowers of more than $10 million annually.
“These sharks target their attacks. Storefront payday lenders are much more likely to target People of Color and low-income workers who can least afford these loans,” NPA writes.
“The most dangerous sharks in America aren’t found in the sea. They’re the payday loan sharks lurking on neighborhood corners and on the Internet and they offer small dollar loans that take a big bite out of family budgets with interest rates averaging roughly 300 percent.”
—National People’s Action
Previous studies have found that payday lenders are much more likely to set up shop in predominantly black and Latino communities than white communities.
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