Live: Track the Storms

Tennessee bill allows lenders to raise interest rates on loans

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Reginald Bankston takes a minute Monday to help someone else in need, but he's walking into Check into Cash on Summer Avenue for assistance himself.

"Now I'm fixing to go back in here make arrangements so I can pay it."

Bankston said a loss of income led him to get behind on loan payments. At this point, he owes less than $350 total and wants to get the loan paid off.

"I'm the type of person that don't like to borrow nothing if I can't pay it back," he said.

But paying back such pricey loans could get even harder for Tennessee consumers. A bill that's already passed the Senate and on the way to the House raises the amount of interest certain financial institutions can charge on loans.

The bill applies to industrial loan and thrift companies. It's an umbrella term that includes payday lenders, title companies and check cashing businesses.

"That'll be tough on me because like I say, I'm on a fixed income."

The bill would allow companies to charge 36 percent interest on loans ranging from $100 to $2,500. That's up from 24 percent.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Tracy said financial institutions are facing higher costs, so this gives them options.

"These just allow the companies to up the interest rate, it doesn't mandate that they do it."

Angelic Mister of the financial counseling organization Operation Hope told WREG higher prices on already expensive and risky loans could lead to more trouble for borrowers already in a bind.

"Not only do they, are the rates higher than a banking institution, but they also have other fees that creates a greater detriment to the person that's receiving those loans."

"I hadn't been able to just come and pay them off, you know what I'm saying, I'm always needing the money. So I renew it."

Leading to a cycle of debt that's hard to break.