Lenders lined up on Victory Drive may soon see changes - CBS46 News

Lenders lined up on Victory Drive may soon see changes

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Proposed revisions to the Military Lending Act would protect military families from predatory lenders while likely changing the face of Victory Drive in Columbus.

Currently, the road leading to Fort Benning is lined with auto title and installment lenders that offer loans with high annual percentage rates. Some market directly to service members by using business names like "Military Loans" and "Patriot Military Loans."

"The first thing you see when you come out of [Fort Benning's] gate, is Omni Financial Military Lending. That's what people are going to bite on. It's unfair," U.S. Army SSgt. Walter Raynor told CBS46 reporter Jeff Chirico.

Raynor said he regrets taking out two $1,000 high-interest installment loans after a costly divorce in 2012. Raynor said he's paid close to $400 a month since then and expects to have paid twice his loan amount in interest alone.

"I've definitely paid off what I [borrowed]. Now I'm paying extra for me being vulnerable," said Raynor.

The problem of predatory lending has prompted the Department of Defense to propose new rules that would, among other things, cap the interest lenders can charge military personnel and their families.

It's a proposal that has the support of many consumer advocates.

"We certainly hope the Department of Defense will act quickly to enact these strong rules. We want to make sure there are no loopholes in the military lending act so our service members and their dependents are truly protected from the types of bad actors that are out there," said Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch.

But what the rules mean for the business landscape of Victory Drive remains to be seen. Coyle pointed out that predatory lenders found loopholes in the Military Lending Act when it was implemented in 2007 and wants to be sure the new provisions are airtight this time. 

Chirico tried to speak with managers of eight lending businesses along and near Victory Drive but none agreed.

Raynor said he agreed to be interviewed because he wants others to learn from his mistake.

"The biggest thing is to look out for younger enlisted soldiers, not to get caught up in things like this. 

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