Goddard to Aggressively Enforce Payday Loan Ban with 'Operation Sunset'

(Phoenix, Ariz. - June 9, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the formation of “Operation Sunset”, an enforcement initiative of the Office designed to aggressively pursue payday lenders who attempt to evade the ban on payday loans. The Office will take action against any payday lenders that continue offering loans with illegally high interest rates after the law expires on June 30.

“I will use every tool at my disposal to enforce the end of exorbitant payday loans in Arizona and seek fines and penalties against those who try to continue this abusive practice," Goddard said. “I encourage citizens to report violations to our Office. Our enforcement will be swift and aggressive.”

Goddard noted that other states, such as North Carolina and Arkansas, have seen deceptive practices following changes in their laws that ended payday loans. Auto loans, pre-paid debit cards and Internet payday lending are alternatives used by the payday loan industry elsewhere to evade the law. For example, pre-paid debit cards have been offered with an interest rate and fees that would exceed Arizona’s annual percentage rate limit of 36 percent.

“We are grateful to Attorney General Goddard for keeping up the good fight to eliminate this industry and support the people of Arizona and their neighborhoods,” said Bishop Henry L. Barnwell, pastor emeritus of First New Life Baptist Church in Phoenix.

“It’s about time the payday loan industry be forced to follow the same rules as all other lenders when making their short-term loans,” said Sunnyslope community leader Christina Plante. “The job of the people isn’t over yet. It will still be our responsibility to work in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office to identify anyone charging triple-digit interest rates.”

The Attorney General’s Office is sending payday loan companies a letter informing them of the “Operation Sunset” initiative and his commitment to vigorously enforce Arizona’s consumer protection laws.

If consumers see violations of the law, they should call the Office’s dedicated Operation Sunset phone line at 1-866-879-5219 or email our offices at operationsunset@azag.gov . They can also visit Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/operationsunset .

Attached is the “Operation Sunset” letter that will be sent to payday lending institutions. For additional information, contact Press Secretary Molly Edwards at 602-542-8019.

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