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As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes on its site, these loans are typically for small amounts but give lenders access to your checking account or require you to write a check for the full balance in advance, which the lender can deposit when the loan comes due. Worse still, payday loans carry sensationally high interest rates, with some costing as much as 400%. That’s serious money for a cash-strapped consumer, and though state laws and other factors influence charges, you’ll want to enter a payday loan agreement carefully.

In the UK Sarah-Jayne Clifton of the Jubilee Debt Campaign said, “austerity, low wages, and insecure work are driving people to take on high cost debt from rip-off lenders just to put food on the table. We need the government to take urgent action, not only to rein in rip-off lenders, but also to tackle the cost of living crisis and cuts to social protection that are driving people towards the loan sharks in the first place.”[21]


These arguments are countered in two ways. First, the history of borrowers turning to illegal or dangerous sources of credit seems to have little basis in fact according to Robert Mayer's 2012 "Loan Sharks, Interest-Rate Caps, and Deregulation".[41] Outside of specific contexts, interest rates caps had the effect of allowing small loans in most areas without an increase of "loan sharking". Next, since 80% of payday borrowers will roll their loan over at least one time [11] because their income prevents them from paying the principal within the repayment period, they often report turning to friends or family members to help repay the loan [42] according to a 2012 report from the Center for Financial Services Innovation. In addition, there appears to be no evidence of unmet demand for small dollar credit in states which prohibit or strictly limit payday lending.

In terms of online lending, a cash advance usually refers to a short-term loan that is quickly funded to your bank account after approval. Typically, the amount you borrow for a cash advance loan is relatively small, which often means you can pay it back in only one or two payments. These short-term loans are very similar to what many people call payday loans, but cash advance loans don't always require a single repayment on payday.

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