Reality Check: Advance America VP Says “It’s Impossible to Call Us a Predatory Lender”

RHETORIC: Advance America VP Jamie Fulmer Says “It’s Impossible to Call Us a Predatory Lender”

Jamie Fulmer, Senior VP of Public Affairs for Advance America, said “It’s Impossible to call us a predatory lender” since payday loans are “transparent and fully disclosed in the marketplace” and have “high customer satisfaction and low instances of complaints.”

Jamie Fulmer, senior vice president of public affairs for Advance America, takes issue with the term “predatory lenders,” blaming payday lending activist groups for misusing the label. “We offer consumers a product that is transparent and fully disclosed in the marketplace, and we do it in a simple, safe and reliable manner,” said Fulmer. “If you peel back the onion and look at the actual facts associated with the products and services that Advance America offers, and you tie that together with the extremely high customer satisfaction and the low instances of complaints, I think it’s impossible to call us a predatory lender,” Fulmer added. Advance America runs 2,400 stores across the country.” [WUWM: “Vicious Cycle Of Payday Loans Poses Hazard For Low-Income Borrowers In Milwaukee”, 1/15/16]

REALITY: Former Advance America Employees Have Detailed The Company’s Predatory Tactics

A former manager of Advance America said “An overwhelming percentage” of customers re-borrow every two weeks and can’t get out of “what appears to be a never-ending cycle of payday loan debt.”

Stephen Martino wrote, “Since I’m a former manager for Advance America, I feel like I have to respond. Payday lenders argue that customers seek payday loans as a “responsible way” to manage their finances. What they tactfully ignore, however, is the high rate of frequency at which customers use the payday loan product. The truth is, an overwhelming percentage of customers pay their loan every two weeks and then re-borrow upon every visit. In many cases, this goes on for years because customers just can’t seem to get out of what appears to be a never-ending cycle of payday loan debt. The fact is, that’s how these companies make their money. Payday lenders make it sound as if their product is a one-time deal. They also claim their fee of $40 for a $400 loan is not only sensible, but affordable. But in my own experiences, I’ve seen customers continue borrowing for years. Time and again I’ve witnessed customers get caught-up in the so-called payday loan debt cycle, and it was my job to restrict customer repayment plan options and encourage the repetitive use of the payday loan product.” [Patch, 6/2/12]

Former employee of Advance America: We would come in early on the 3rd of the month when disability and social security benefits arrived for our customers to cash their checks and wipe out their checking accounts.

“One former employee of Advance America explains some tricks of the trade. Speaking on the condition on anonymity (because he and other employees were forced to sign a confidentiality agreement upon leaving the firm), this former shop employee says that many of his clients were on disability or Social Security: “They would come in for a small loan and write a check to the company dated the 3rd of the month, when their government checks would arrive. All the Advance America employees were required to come in early on that day, so we could quickly cash their checks and wipe out their checking accounts.” [PR Watch, 9/16/10]

Advance America employee: A primary goal was to get customers to renew their loans and corporate offices were more concerned with renewal rates than paid off loans.

A primary goal is to get customers to continually renew their loans. “We had to call in our numbers every night to Advance America’s corporate headquarters. They were not interested in numbers on who paid off their loans, but on who renewed their loans. They wanted folks to pay the interest rate and keep the loan going and going,” says the former employee.” [PR Watch, 9/16/10]

Advance America employee: We would go to the place of employment of our customers who were late on payments. “The key was embarrassment and intimidation.”

This employee also worked for a time in the collection department, where he was instructed not to visit people at home, but to go to people’s place of employment first. “We would not tell their bosses where we were from, but we would carry a clip board with our name on it in a prominent way. We would request that a person be pulled off the factory floor, not to collect, but to keep them on the hook. The key was embarrassment and intimidation.” [PR Watch, 9/16/10]

For more information on Jamie Fulmer be sure to check out his profile (a project of National People’s Action.)



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