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Lending companies target needy Americans with loans sent in the mail

FOX 17 News

Lending companies are targeting people who need money with high interest loans sent in the mail.

The practice has experts debating whether that amounts predatory practices or merely offering capital to Americans that may not otherwise be able to get a loan.

Stephen Huggins lives in Lebanon and got a check in the mail for $1,200. "Loan" was written on top of it, and in the fine print, the loan statement read that it came with a 33 percent interest rate. Concerned, Huggins put the check aside, but he eventually cashed the check after he needed money to fix his truck.

Now he's facing a $3,300 lawsuit because he did not repay fast enough, and lender Mariner Financial is asking for him to cover court costs and attorney fees as they seek to recoup their money quickly.

"There's no such thing as free money, and so if someone has sent you a check unsolicited in the mail, that's where your radar should go up," Attorney David Anthony said. "They do take advantage of someone who needs something. They have a resource, cash, that these people over here desperately need."

The lenders target people that they believe need money, and the court case against them usually ends up in small claims courts.

Anthony, who has represented both lenders and borrowers, said that those who push back against the court-aided collection usually reach a deal, so protracted effort is not necessary for the lender.

More than 500,000 Americans are customers of Mariner Financial which has more than 400 offices across the country.

"It's completely risky to the lender to send someone a loan sight unseen," Anthony said.

FOX 17 News was unable to reach someone from Mariner Financial for a comment on this story. Court documents show Huggins has pushed back and had his case continued.

Judges in Davidson County, Tennessee are often seen as more protective of borrowers rights than in other jurisdictions.

According to a statement released to the Washington Post, Mariner Financial said the following:

"Mariner Finance delivers a valuable service to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have limited access to consumer credit. Mariner is licensed, regulated, and in good standing, in all states in which it operates and its operations are subject to frequent examination by state regulators. Mariner’s products are transparent with clear disclosure and Mariner proactively educates its customers in every step of the process.”

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