Woo-Hoo: 425,000 Comments Submitted!

The Comment Period is Over!

While the campaign to rein in payday lending abuses continues, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s official comment period has closed. In all, the Bureau has received some 425,000 comments in support and calling on the bureau to strengthen its proposed rule on payday, car title and installment loans.Thanks to you all for your hard work. We’re still taking stock, but here’s a sampling of what we’ve done together these past four months.

Over 1,047 Groups Joined National Comment Letters!

With the biggest show of strength yet, 762 community, labor, faith, veterans, small business, and other groups from every state in the country submitted a letter calling on the CFPB to strengthen its rule, including hundreds of groups new to the campaign. You can download the letter here for your records. Additionally, Habitat for Humanity sent a letter from 168 affiliates, 91 members of the CFED network sent in a joint letter, and 26 agencies joined a letter from the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice.

But it was state and local organizations that led the charge, gathering hundreds of local allies together for comments and often broadening relationships. Probably the biggest letter came from North Carolina, where 171 organizations banded together to tell the CFPB to close the loopholes! Among the most extensive letters – including some with collections of stories from area borrowers – came from Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Together, we mobilized consumers to make over four hundred thousand comments to the CFPB calling for a strong rule, with groups organizing in their communities to get handwritten stories from thousands of everyday people, often detailing the horrible impact that the debt trap has had on their families (pictured: Oklahoma City). A new report called Caught in a Debt Trap highlighted nine such stories and was released in the final week of the comment period.

Dubbing themselves Paydayfreelandia, groups from the 14 states that effectively ban payday loans through strong interest rate caps sent a message loud and clear: The more than 90 million people in their states are much better off without predatory payday lending, and the CFPB should use its full authority to end the payday loan debt trap.

Thanks to our collective efforts, some 134 members of congress joined either House or Senate sign-on letters or wrote their own comments calling for a strong rule, far outweighing efforts by industry lobbyists to put elected officials on the record against the rule. Some members were even dissuaded from sending their own comments based on industry talking points.

On the state and local level, elected officials also support a strong rule,

sending a series of letters from hundreds of state legislators, a joint letter from eight Attorneys General, and letters from municipal officials. Local advocates worked with eleven cities and counties to pass resolutions in support of strengthening the rule, beginning with PennPIRG in Philadelphia and New Jersey Citizen Action across their state. Mayors in California, New Jersey and Florida also sent their own letters.

Newspapers across the country played a key role in supporting common sense solutions to the debt trap. The Southwest Center for Economic Integrity got the Arizona Republic to make a “conservative case for federal regulations,” and other advocates helped secure strong editorials in the Baltimore Sun, the LA Times, Star Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, the Cleveland Plains Dealer, the LeHigh Valley Express Times, the Kentucky Herald Leader, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the San Antonio Express-News, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Springfield News Leader, the Tampa Bay Times, and the Toledo Blade, among others. Scores of other articles and op-eds were published throughout the comment period, lifting up the voices and concerns of consumers.

Hundreds rally at the release of the proposed rule in Kansas City

Advocates shut down a title lender in Milwaukee

Conferences like FLARA mobilized comments

Comments were gathered at screenings of The Ordinance

Philadelphia passes the first city resolution for a strong rule

Consumers at the passage of the Los Angeles County resolution

Wisconsin’s Week of Action ended with a Moral Monday rally

Virginia Organizing alone submitted 100s of photo petitions

Oklahoma clergy and organizers gathered nearly 1,000 comments

NCLR gathered 3,400 comments at its nat’l conference

Dallas Area Interfaith held gatherings to collect stories

500 comments were gathered at LULAC’s annual conference