The High Price of Quick Loans
ALACHUA COUNTY -They're easy to take out, but often, hard to pay back - quick, high interest loans come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Many people take out pay day loans, and with tax season here, companies are doing their best to get people to take out tax loans.
Some experts say pay day loans are a necessary part of the credit industry and help people who find themselves in unusual circumstances get a quick dollar.
However, experts warn the quicker the dollar the harder it is to pay back, and if you are going to take out a pay day loan you should take it out only for the time it was intended and use them very sparingly.
The problem with pay day loans are the high interest rates.
For example, if you take out the maximum allowed by the state of Florida, $500.00, and there is a $55.00 fee, you are paying almost a 300% interest rate.
The problems arise when you are not able to pay the amount when it comes due because you have to pay for other things, then you roll it over and the fees begin to accrue.
Pay day loans are allowed in Florida – threre are only 3 states plus the District of Columbia where they are actually prohibited.
The rules? The max amount you can take out is $500.00, the loan can be for no longer than 31 days, and Florida law says you can only get one pay day loan at time.
If you don't pay it back, companies cannot pursue criminal charges against the borrower - fees just could add up.
While pay day loans are always in season, its tax season that brings another round of loans that are hard to pay back.
Lots of gimmicks to get you inside, and once you're there, you're often stuck.
These are called refund anticipation loans, where a company loans you what your predicted tax return will be until you get yours from the federal government.
The problem is, you could often pay interest rates ranging from 50% to 500%, so when you go to pay it back, you're paying twice what you were loaned.
It's a growing problem right here in North Central Florida, and especially as these agencies begin to offer services earlier each year.
Also, experts warn that filing with these companies isnt going to get you your return any quicker.
So what is the alternative to these quick loans if you are living paycheck to paycheck?
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation offers some alternatives - including use of the United Way and their 2-1-1 number that offers assistance with a variety of problems, including financial.
They also suggest deferring payment of your bills if you can that are non - interest, like your utility bills.
As for your taxes? If you make $50,000 or less, the United Way can also help you file them, and just as quick as other companies are promising.
The Center for Resposnible Lending says to e-file with the IRS and pick direct deposit - it's free and you can get your return deposited straight into your bank account.
It's a trying time for many, but be warned that these quick loans could make the burden even heavier.
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