Fewer payday loan stores after lawmakers offer alternatives

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new state report reveals that one out of every six payday loan stores closed last year after state lawmakers created more options to help people avoid high-interest loans.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the report by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions found there are 462 remaining payday loan stores, down from 553 the year before.

Republican state Rep. Brad Daw of Orem said the findings show lawmakers may be helping consumers “a little bit.” Legislative changes include a requirement that payday loan stores offer interest-free extended payment plans before suing for default.

The report also found the stores raised their average rate to 485 percent annual interest.

Wendy Gibson, spokeswoman for the industry’s Utah Consumer Lending Association, says the closures show there’s a competitive environment in the state. She says that same market determines the interest rates.

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