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AARP Survey: People Over Age 50 Support Payday Loan Cap

Kealey Bultena
AARP South Dakota state director Sarah Jennings / October 28, 2015

A poll from AARP South Dakota shows most people who are over age 50 want the state to restrict how much money payday lenders can charge. The membership organization paid for the survey from Alan Newman Research. Poll results are from the end of September and beginning of this month.

Phone calls to 904 older South Dakotans show many people agree the law should cap the interest payday lenders and car title loan companies charge customers. Sarah Jennings is the state director for AARP South Dakota.

"South Dakotans 50+ do believe that we need to cap the interest rate on payday loans. Sixty-three percent felt strongly that we need to do this and an additional 14 percent felt somewhat strongly, so at that point you have almost 80 percent of the 50+ across our state of South Dakota who believe we need to take action on this issue,” Jennings says.

The poll has a sampling error of between +/- 3.7 percent and +/- 5.4 percent.

AARP South Dakota is part of a coalition circulating petitions to put payday lending rates to a public vote. Jennings says the organization commissioned the survey to find out what individuals think.

“The exact wording of the question was, ‘How strongly do you agree or disagree that South Dakota law should be changed to cap interest rates and fees that payday and auto title loan businesses can charge borrowers at 36 percent? Do you: strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, don’t know, or refuse to answer?’ Jennings says.

Supporters of the vote – and of the rate cap – say lenders profit off of desperate people who are vulnerable and get caught in a cycle of debt.

Payday lenders say they provide a service to people who can’t get loans other places because lending to them is so risky. They say capping interest rates would ruin the industry.

Jennings says survey participants were not limited to AARP members, and they span a variety of education, incomes, genders, marital statuses, races, and political ideologies.

View the complete survey report at this link.