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Advocates Promote Responsible Lending In Virginia

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Many lawmakers and advocates continue to work to abolish predatory lending practices in Virginia. The Virginia Partnership to Encourage Responsible Lending (VaPerl) says the number of payday lending institutions has declined from 769 in 2008 to 267 in 2011.

The organization says 470,000 loans were made in 2011 compared to 3.3 million in 2008. But more title loan, Internet, and open-end credit lending agencies that charge high fees and interest rates are now doing business.

The Virginia Credit Union League's Louis Wood says those lenders prey on people who think they have no recourse. But he says most don't know that credit unions offer alternatives.

"So often we'll pair that with financial counseling, and also with other products that help the borrower build credit or encourage savings," he says. "And you know our message to our consumers is this: If you are a member of a credit union, look to your credit union for those small dollar emergency loans. If you're not yet a member of a credit union, there's a credit union out there eager to serve you no matter what your financial need or financial situation."

VaPerl members say they're being proactive in educating people about alternatives to predatory lenders, but it will take time. They're pursuing legislation to crack down on Internet lending, which is illegal, but uses loopholes that must be closed.

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