Texas Is Throwing People In Jail For Failing To Pay Back Predatory Loans

Transaction means, collectively, the account with us for which you are applying and each and every credit transaction that you and we ever complete following your submission of this Credit Application. Despite being against state law, the data show that criminal complaints are an effective way for payday lenders to get borrowers to pay. Thanks for a great opportunity to get money when you needed. If you withdraw your Consent prior to receiving the credit transaction, then your withdrawal will prevent you from obtaining an online credit transaction i. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content.

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I was so destroyed… Suddenly I came to this site. In Texas, failure to repay a loan is a civil, not a criminal, matter. Payday lenders cannot pursue criminal charges against borrowers unless fraud or another crime is clearly established. In , a devastating Texas Observer investigation documented widespread use of criminal charges against borrowers before the clarification to state law was passed. Nevertheless, Texas Appleseed's new analysis shows that payday lenders continue to routinely press dubious criminal charges against borrowers.

Jones, a year-old who asked that her first name not be published in order to protect her privacy, was one of those 1, cases. The Huffington Post reviewed and confirmed the court records associated with her case. The issue for Ms. Jones -- and most other payday borrowers who face criminal charges -- came down to a check. These checks and debit authorizations are the backbone of the payday lending system. She made a partial payment, rolling over the loan for another month and asking if she could create a payment plan to pay back the remainder.

Jones' check to Cash Plus was returned with a notice that her bank account had been closed. She was then criminally charged with bad check writing. In Texas, bad check writing and "theft by check" are Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to days in jail as well as potential fines and additional consequences. In the typical "hot check" case, a person writes a check that they know will bounce in order to buy something.

However, the intent of the clarification to state law is that a bounced check written to a payday lender alone cannot justify criminal charges. Yet in Texas, criminal charges are frequently substantiated by little more than the lender's word and evidence that is often inadequate.

For instance, the criminal complaint against Jones simply includes a photocopy of her bounced check. Once the charges are filed, the borrower must enter a plea or face an arrest warrant. If the borrower pleads guilty, they must pay a fine on top of the amount owed to the lender. Jones moved after she borrowing from Cash Plus, so she did not get notice of the charges by mail.

Instead, a county constable showed up at her new address. Jones said she was terrified and embarrassed by the charges. She had to enter a plea in the case or else face an arrest warrant and possible jail time. In addition to the fines, Jones was unable to renew her driver's license until the case was resolved. Emilio Herrera, the Cash Plus franchisee who submitted the affidavit against Jones, told HuffPost that he does not remember her case.

But he added that he tries to work out payment plans with all his customers, and that it is common for his customers to pay back loans in very small increments. In response to a request for comment from HuffPost about Appleseed's letter, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spokesman Sam Gilford said, "Consumers should not be subjected to illegal threats when they are struggling to pay their bills, and lenders should not expect to break the law without consequences.