08/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Payday Loans: Do Borrowers Know What They're Getting?

There's been a lot of finger-pointing lately about who is to blame for the untenable financial circumstances of many American families. Among the usual suspects--Wall Street quants, fly-by-night mortgage brokers, the households themselves--none is an easier target than payday lenders. These storefront loan sharks are portrayed by their detractors as swindlers preying on the desperation and ignorance of the poor. A payday backlash is already well underway--Ohio recently passed legislation capping interest rates at 28 percent per year, and the Military Personnel Act limits interest charged to military personnel and their families to 36 percent. The average payday loan has an annual interest rate of more than 400 percent.

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