A report released this week by the state Consumer Credit Department shows payday lenders issued more than a million loans last year in Oklahoma, the highest total since 2008.
Since 2008, the industry in Oklahoma has generated loans totaling about $1.6 billion, with its customers assessed $263,146,898 in finance charges during that span.
According to the report, payday lenders in Oklahoma issued loans totaling $401,895,262 in 2011. Those companies, most often storefront locations, assessed $53,893,245 in finance charges for the loans, which are typically due within two to three weeks.
The totals for 2011, the latest available from the Consumer Credit Department, are highest since 2008, when lenders doled out about $418 million. That year, before tougher regulations were in place, payday lenders assessed borrowers $99,588,974 in finance charges.
The report shows that 374 individual vendors reported to the state agency in 2011, again the most since 2008.
Those businesses reported they had 167,323 individual payday loan customers last year, meaning that most utilizing the high-interest, short-term loans used them more than once over the course of the year.
Payday loans typically range from $100 to $500, with borrowers required to leave a check for the loan amount — plus interest — with the lending company.
Last year in Oklahoma, more than 54,000 of those checks were returned to the loan companies due to insufficient funds. The checks totaled about $25.3 million, state records show.
A study released earlier in the month by the Pew Safe Small-Dollar Loans Research Project shows that Oklahoma's payday lending laws are considered “permissive,” meaning that loan companies can assess annual percentage rates of 391 percent or higher.
Fifteen states, mostly on the East Coast, don't allow payday loan storefronts, while eight other states are considered “hybrid” states. In hybrid states, payday lenders are allowed to operate storefront locations but have numerous restrictions placed on them, typically involving lower fee limits and longer periods for repayment.
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