Advocates Push Back Against Deceptive, Industry- Funded Academic “Research” on Payday Lending

Consumer Groups Call on Payday Lending Industry’s Trade Group and Member Companies to Sever Ties with Controversial Foundation Following Explosive New Report


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of an explosive new report revealing how the payday lending industry finances and influences “academic research,” a coalition of consumer advocacy organizations is calling on the country’s leading payday lending industry trade group and its member companies to disavow the fraudulent research and sever its ties with the controversial foundation and individuals responsible for orchestrating the studies.

Earlier this week, a report from Campaign for Accountability exposed the payday lending industry’s recent efforts to produce academic research that defends the industry’s deceptive practices and the impact they have on hardworking men and women. The report outlines how an organization called the Consumer Credit Research Foundation (CCRF) paid nearly $40,000 to a professor from Arkansas Tech University to produce a study claiming that payday loans do not leave consumers trapped in cycles of debt.

The report highlights how CCRF chairman Hilary Miller received and edited drafts of the study and encouraged the Arkansas Tech professor to omit elements that would point to the danger caused by high interest, short-term loans. Furthermore, Miller dictated and financed media strategy for the release of the study. The CCRF is funded by Dollar Financial Group, Inc., a major payday lender and member of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) – the industry’s special interest trade group. Coincidently enough, a Dollar Financial Group executive sits on the board of the CFSA and just so happens to chair its “research committee.”

Read Campaign for Accountability’s Full Report: http://aldpr.gs/1McMC4E

Now, a coalition of consumer advocates including Allied Progress, National People’s Action, and Americans for Financial Reform, are calling on the CFSA and its member companies to sever all ties with Hilary Miller and CCRF, and to stop using this fraudulent work to defend the industry’s practices.

“The research the payday lending industry produces may be fake, but the pain their predatory loans cause for everyday Americans is very real. These so-called academic papers are just one more example of how the payday lending industry works to manipulate and deceive the public in order to rake in even more money,” said Allied Progress executive director Karl Frisch.  “If payday lenders are as honest and trustworthy as they claim to be, they will sever their ties with Hilary Miller and his organization and stop using his work to defend their business model.”

“Unable to stand on the facts, the payday industry has to rely on bought and paid fiction.  Everyday people understand that the predatory practices of the payday industry do real harm and are calling for strong, broad regulation to put an end to the debt trap,” said Liz Ryan Murray of National People’s Action.

Each year, payday lenders bring in more than $46 billion by trapping an estimated 12 million Americans in a seemingly endless cycle of debt. Payday lenders have been known to use threats, harassment, and intimidation to pressure customers into taking out additional loans when they are having trouble paying back their previous loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has indicated it will soon announce new nationwide rules that will rein in the excesses of the payday lending industry.

Key Takeaways from Campaign for Accountability’s Report:

  • CCRF paid Prof. Marc Anthony Fusaro at least $39,912 to prepare a report entitled, Do Payday Loans Trap Consumers in a Cycle of Debt?. Prof. Fusaro’s co-author, Dr. Patricia Cirillo, billed the CCRF directly for her costs associated with the study.
  • CCRF chairman Hilary Miller received and edited drafts of the study, and directed Prof. Fusaro to remove negative information about payday lenders from the report.
  • When Dr. Cirillo discovered payday loan borrowers often had massive debit card overdrafts the month before seeking a payday loan, she emailed Prof. Fusaro that Mr. Miller was not “too happy” about the finding and had told her it wasn’t the “objective of the study.” Prof. Fusaro agreed not to include it in the report.
  • Mr. Miller instructed Prof. Fusaro to delete any acknowledgement of the role played by representatives of payday lenders in producing the report.
  • Mr. Miller dictated and financed the press strategy for the report. In an email to Prof. Fusaro, Mr. Miller instructed him to identify Arkansas Tech as the source for a PR Newswire release, and Prof. Fusaro agreed.

In additional to Dollar Financial Group, Inc., other CFSA member companies include: 1-2-3 CA$H; Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.; Advance Cash; All American Check Cashing; Amscot Financial; AT Financial Services, LLC; Axcess Financial / Check ‘n Go, Inc.; Cash 1; Cash 2-U Payday Loans; Cash Factory USA; Cash Fast; Cash Tyme; Check City; Check Into Cash, Inc.; Check on Hold / Hold-a-Check; Community Choice Financial DBA CheckSmart Financial; Consumer Lending Associates, LLC; DMP Investments / Cash Xpress; EC Holdings DBA Emergi Cash; EMG Acquisition Group, LLC; Equity Management Group; Financial Management Services; Harpeth Financial Services DBA Advance Financial; Integrated Commerce, LLC; Instant Cash Advance Corp.; Ivy Funding; JD Finance, Inc.; Main Street Personal Finance / (ACAC, Inc.); MoneyKey; Moneytree, Inc.; NCP Finance; PH Financial Services, LLC; QC Holdings, Inc.; Shoreside Loans; Speedee Cash Management Co., Inc.; Speedy Cash / Rapid Cash Companies; Speedy Cash, Inc. (Florida); Thrifty Loans, LLC; Always Money/ EFS Inc. / Triton Management; USA Cash Services; Xpress Cash Management; and XTRACASH, LLC.

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To speak with Allied Progress, contact Alec Saslow at 720-319-4948 or Madison Donzis at 210-488-6220.

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