A tribal lending entity wholly owned by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe is systematically fleecing borrowers with interest rates that would make a payday lender blush.
What's Worse Than A Payday Loan?
In the past, here at Auto Credit Express we've tried to make our applicants, many of whom have had or are having financial problems, aware of the financial trap that payday loans represent.
These loans, whose amounts typically range from $100 to $500, normally come with 2 week terms and interest rates that average 30 percent per month (not year). That's an annual percentage rate (APR) of 360% with many of these companies operating out of store front locations that also offer check cashing services, pawn loans and car title loans.
But while these rates may seem obscene, they don't hold a candle to the latest lender we've come across.
American Web Loan
Yesterday I received an envelope in the mail from American Web Loan, located at 2128 N. 14th Street (Suite 1 #130) in Ponca City, Oklahoma. In large bold type on the front of the envelope were the words "ACT NOW - Get up to $1,400."
Out of curiosity and knowing there is no such thing as a "free lunch", I opened the envelope. Next to my name and address were the words "NOT a Payday Loan, 100% Secure Online Process, Trustworthy, Safe & Upfront, U.S.-Based Customer Service - 7 Days a Week"
The contents of the letter told me that one of these loans would be "convenient, timely, flexible, 96% customer satisfaction and secure". It also mentioned "accredited" and that "we strictly adhere to the Online Lenders Alliance and Native American Financial Services Association Best Practices" while noting the many things I could use my FlexLoan for car repairs, utility bills, etc. plus "Escaping costly bank NSF, overdraft and returned payment fees".
I was also offered a $30 cash bonus offer just for signing up before 10/15/2014.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Not so fast.
The Real Story
Reading on, here is what caught my eye:
"Loans obtained from American web Loan are governed by the law of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, not the law of your resident state. The law of your resident state may have interest rate limits and other consumer protection provisions that are more favorable. If you wish to have your resident state law apply, you should consider taking a loan from a lender licensed within your state."
So here's how a loan from AWL works:
Borrowers can either call in or apply online for a loan. If they apply online they'll receive a call from AWL if they are approved. Either way, if the borrower is approved for a loan, they're quoted an interest amount (not an interest rate).
If the loan amount is $1,000, the interest amount is $300 and the loan payment is $300 bi-weekly. If the loan amount is $800, the interest amount is $240 and the loan payment is $240 bi-weekly. If the loan amount is $400, the interest amount is $120 and the loan payment is $120 bi-weekly.
To qualify for the loan, borrowers also must furnish their bank account information so the funds can be withdrawn automatically every other week.
So far, so good, except for the fact that the bi-weekly payment is the same as the interest amount quoted because the borrower is, in reality, only paying the interest charges every other week without reducing any of the loan principle.
This means that, following ten weeks of payments (5 payments of $240) a consumer who borrowed $800 and paid $1,200 on the loan would still have an $800 loan balance, since no payments would've gone towards the loan principle.
Those interest payments, by the way, represent an annual percentage interest rate (APR) of 780 percent!
We told you the rate would make a payday lender blush.
Our advice: stay away from these guys – in fact, run away as fast as you can.
The Better Business Bureau agrees with us. On the BBB's scale of "A+" to "F", American Web Loan is rated "F" and that doesn't stand for "Fine". Complaints the BBB has received concerning American Web Loan include "billing and collection issues, refund issues, concerns with sales practices, and unsatisfactory customer service. The majority of the complaints pertain to confusion regarding the terms and conditions of the loan as well as the consumer's obligation to repay."
Not only that, according to the BBB, after they contacted a representative from the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit, they were informed that if the company is owned by a Native American Tribe, it is not obligated to follow the state laws (it appears that borrowers from One Click Cash, Cash Call and Money Mutual are either directed to, or encouraged to visit, the AWL website).
The Bottom Line
To say that the loans issued by American Web Loan are predatory is putting it mildly – the interest charged by most payday lenders pales in comparison. The mere fact that tribal lenders can ignore the majority of federal and state lending laws should be a wakeup call to anyone considering this type of loan.
One more tip: Auto Credit Express matches consumers with past credit issues, even those that believe their only option is a BHPH car loan, with dealers that can offer them their best opportunities for car loan approvals.
So if you're ready to establish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online auto loan application.