The return of rent-a-bank lending is the most serious threat in 20 years to states' ability to protect their residents from predatory lending. Proposed rules would make it easier for high-cost lenders to launder their loans through banks.
What is Rent-A-Bank?
The Rent-A-Bank Scheme | Center for Responsible Lending, regularly updated
"Predatory lenders are making loans of 100% APR or more in states with limits of 36% or less by laundering loans through an out-of-state bank that is not subject to state interest rate limits. This is a rent-a-bank scheme."
Payday lenders and online consumer lenders are starting to make usurious loans up to 160% in states where those rates are illegal by using banks, which are not subject to state rate caps, as a fig leaf. Banks have little to do with the loans, which they immediately sell.
Bank regulators shut down these schemes in the early 2000s, but two state-chartered banks, FinWiseBank and Republic Bank and Trust, both regulated by the FDIC, are again helping payday lenders evade the law in 28 states & DC
NCLC issue brief on rent-a-bank lending and threat to usury laws
FDIC / OCC Proposal Would Encourage Rent-a-Bank Predatory Lending | NCLC, December 2019
This issue brief explains the business arrangements between banks and lenders and legal issues with rent-a-bank lending. And it highlights the huge threat that an FDIC/OCC proposal poses to states' historic ability to limit interest rates and to protect their residents from predatory lending.
Rent-A-Bank In The News
Proposed Federal Banking Rule Would Unleash Predatory Lending in All 50 States | Press Release, Consumer Federation of America, September 4, 2020. "The OCC’s Plan Would Gut Longstanding Anti-Evasion Doctrine and Encourage Triple-Digit Interest Rate Loans That Violate State Rate Cap Laws."
DBO Launches Investigation Into Possible Evasion of California’s New Interest Rate Caps By Prominent Auto Title Lender, LoanMart | Press Release, CA Dept of Business Oversight (DBO), September 3, 2020
This article explains what the threat means to states like AZ and NC that took action against high cost payday lending. After a 15-year ban, could payday lending return to North Carolina? | Sophie Kasakove, The News & Observer, August 6, 2020
Advocates Praise D.C. Attorney General Suit Against Predatory High-Cost Rent-a-Bank Lender | NCLC Press Release, June 5, 2020
Advocates Condemn Rent-a-Bank Rule that Encourages Predatory High-Cost Loans; Call on Congress to Pass Federal 36% Interest Rate Cap Limit | NCLC Press Release, May 29, 2020
‘Rent-a-Bank’ Lending Practices Trigger Calls For Regulation By PYMNTS | March 11, 2020
Based on a paywalled article in the Wall Street Journal
Rent-A-Bank In The News
by Hannah Wiley | The Sacramento Bee, December 18, 2019
Trump’s Bank Regulators Open the Door to More Predatory Lending by David Dayen | The American Prospect, November 19, 2019
Trump Administration Declares Open Season on Consumers for Subprime Lenders
by Adam Levitin | Credit Slips, November 18, 2019
November 12, 2019 | NPR, All Things Considered
Rent-A-Bank In The News 2021
Who Supports Overturning the OCC's "Fake Lender" Rule? | Consumer Federation of America brief, April 30, 2021
"Across party lines, state attorneys general, banking regulators, credit unions, academic scholars, state legislators, faith leaders, and civil rights, consumer, disability rights, housing, labor, legal services, senior rights, small business, and veterans organizations agree that a bank’s mere name on a piece of paper should not allow predatory lenders to hide behind a fake lender in orderto evade state usury laws."
Consumer Advocate Leaders in 36 States and Washington, D.C. Balk at “Fake Lender” Rule | NACA Press Release, April 27, 2021
"The National Association of Consumer Advocates Releases Letter Signed by Its State Leaders Urging Congress to Rescind OCC Lending Rule"
"On behalf of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), I am writing to express our members’ support of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution (S.J. Res.15) to strike down the Office of the Comptroller of Currency’s (OCC) true lender rule."
Bipartisan Group of 25 State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Repeal OCC “True Lender” Rule | Letter, April 21, 2021 | NCLC Press Release
"Letter Reflects Bipartisan Support for State Interest Rate Caps and the Need to Stop “Rent-a-Bank” Evasions by Predatory Lenders". The Arizona AG did not sign.
138 Scholars Call for Congressional Repeal of “True Lender” Rule | Letter, April 20, 2021 | NCLC Press Release
"OCC Rule Usurps Role States Have Had Since Founding of the Nation in Protecting Families from Usurious Lending"
Brent Ruffner, Daily Independent | April 9, 2021
"Officials from the Phoenix-based group Wildfire and the Center for Economic Integrity say proposed national legislation could halt triple-digit interest rates that get passed onto consumers on short-term loans such as advances given in exchange for a car titles."
AG Racine Sues Online Lender for Making Predatory and Deceptive Loans to 4,000+ District Consumers | Press Release, DC Attorney General, April 5, 2021
"OppFi Charged Illegal Interest Rates of up to 198% -- More than Eight Times Higher than the District’s Rate Cap -- and Falsely Claimed Its High-Cost Loans Help Build Credit"
NY AG James Sues to Stop Trump Administration from Allowing Predatory Lenders to Take Advantage Of New York’s Most Vulnerable Communities | Press Release, NY Attorney General, January 5, 2021
"New York Attorney General Letitia James today led a coalition of eight attorneys general from around the nation in filing a lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration from implementing a new rule that would take advantage of New York’s most vulnerable consumers."
Toolkit for Advocates
National Consumer Law Center
Watch List - High-Cost Rent-a-Bank Loan
Info - Rent-a-Bank Loans
Letters & Comments
Senators must protect borrowers | Cynthia Zwick & Kelly Griffith, Anthem Independent, April 21, 2021
Wildfire and CEI Press Advisory "Congress to Introduce Resolution Rescinding 'Fake Lender' Rule Enabling Predatory Lenders to Evade Arizona’s Interest Rate Limits" | March 29, 2021
Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McCarthy and Minority Leader McConnell re: "Support CRA challenge to OCC 'fake lender' predatory lending rule" | March 22, 2021 | signed by 325 organizations including 13 in AZ
CEI Letter to AG and DIFI requesting enforcement re: Rent-A-Bank | September 23, 2020
CEI Press Release on OCC "True Lender" proposal | September 8, 2020
AZ Coalition letter to OCC on "True Lender" proposal, submitted with CEI's Comments to the OCC (below).
CEI letter to AG and AZDFI requesting action re: Rent-A-Bank | June 19 letter, updated July 15, 2020
AZ coalition comments on FDIC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking etc. | February 4, 2020
National coalition comments on OCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking etc. | signed by CEI, January 21, 2020
National coalition letter to OCC and FDIC opposing their support for predatory small business lender using rent-a-bank scheme | signed by CEI, October 24, 2019
CEI comment to FDIC re Small-Dollar Lending | January 22, 2019