Were You Ripped Off by a Payday Loan Company? Go Get Your Refund at City Hall

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Suzanne Stathatos
This could be yours
Well, this is odd. The City Attorney's Office is having some trouble getting consumers to come down to City Hall and claim their free money.

So now we're publicizing it: If you've been ripped off by payday loans, here's your opportunity to get some of your hard-earned cash back. Today, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced that he is doling out some $7.5 million to consumers eligible for reimbursements from Money Mart and Loan Mart.

Until Oct. 1, consumers who were ripped off can file their reimbursement claims for interest and fees that they paid for Money Mart loans. They can get up to $1,800 back, Herrera says. A similar settlement was reached with Check 'n Go last month, and the city is in the process of setting up another claims administration fund.

Money Mart and Check 'n Go, the two largest payday lenders in the U.S., violated California's unfair business laws by charging outlandish interest rates that reached up to 400 percent APR, according to Herrera.

As we know from experience, getting a refund doesn't solve the larger problem for those of you us who need some quick cash now. So City Treasurer José Cisneros was kind enough to explain some of San Francisco's alternatives to relying in payday loans.

He says Bank of San Francisco offers mainstream banking services to those who lack a banking relationship. Payday Plus SF partners with S.F. credit unions and offers borrowers between $50 and $500 at 18 percent APR or below. These loans can be paid off in up to 12 months. CurrenC SF encourages people to use direct deposit to cut out the middleman involved in cashing checks.

"If the money is not exhausted, half of it will go back to the city and county of San Francisco," Herrera told reporters today. The other half will go to organizations "focused on financial education and other community-based efforts." San Francisco is already guaranteed to receive $875,000 from these predatory lenders.

San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson reiterated the urgency to distribute this money fast.

"In this economy, every nickel that people make is important. People are now choosing between whether or not they should go to school or eat," he said. They're trying "to make sure people's checks go into the pockets of the workers and those families."

If you want to submit a claim form to get your money back, you can do that right here.

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My Voice Nation Help

I have used a pay day loan occasionally when a big unexpected bill pops up. I pay $36 to borrow $200 for 2 weeks. A bank charges you $35 to borrow $1 if you make a mistake doing math in your check book. Who are the rip off people here?One time I used the wrong deposit slip (my mistake) and my bank charged me $175 in fees for 5 $4 lunches on my ATM card even when I had $1600 in a savings account in the bank. Yes I made a mistake but the bank could have just transferred some money or taken 5 minutes to call me. By the way most banks have a way to make your card be turned down if funds aren't available but you have to ask for it. Then they often "forget" to keep that feature turned on also. Better a devil you know at the pay day loan place that is honest about his fees up front than your good buddy banker that will twist the knife he drives in your back when you are shaking his had in friendship.


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