I am Approved for a Payday Loan

05/02/14

Received the automated call to my cell phone yesterday morning, whereupon my phone recorded a 45 second message. Not only am I approved for a payday loan in the amount of up to $1,500, I apparently previously applied for a payday loan, and given that "as of April 2014, our lenders have lowered their requirements for loan qualification, I am now approved" (emphasis added). (I did not apply for a payday loan, ever, for the record.) All I need to do is go to this handy website and enter my pre-approval/promo code, which was provided to me twice during the call. The call ended by assuring me that there were no hidden fees to get my loan and congratulating me again.

The unsolicited call was very timely in light of my previous post hypothesizing that payday lenders will venture even more into the Internet arena in the near future. I wonder how this lending network got my cell number (someone sold it to them? data breach?), and how they decided my number belonged to a person from whom it would be productive to solicit business. As they transition to more Internet lending, maybe payday lenders are really widening their targeting? In fact, I received a call a few months ago from a live person asking me if I wanted to consolidate my payday loans. (How many payday loans does the industry think I have?) I replied, "that sounds interesting, tell me more about this consolidation thing." To which the caller questioned, rather sternly, "do you have any payday loans?" Upon hearing that I have none, the caller promptly hung up. Based on my completely anecdotal experiences, the world of payday lending is getting larger and larger.


Also, I went to the website. The disclosures overall informed me that payday loans are state specific, meaning that I needed to apply to see how much of that $1,500 I could receive right now, in one lump sum, deposited directly into my bank account. But applying seems very, very easy. There even is an option to apply for a loan without the lender running a credit check. I imagine that these phone calls yield some customers, and potentially more credit worthy customers if the marketing truly is as broad as it seems. For cash strapped individuals and couples who are not likely to walk into a payday lending location, an easy-to-use website may be all they need to decide to take out some money to tide them over.

Finally, I received this call to my cell phone at 7:30 am central (Illinois's time zone). I figured that must violate some federal regulation. And indeed it might! A Federal Communications Commission regulation prohibits telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers without prior consent. Given the pre-recorded message I received, I bet there's a good chance the call was made with an automated dialer. The FCC and FTC also prohibit telemarketers from calling outside the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Given that my cell number is from an eastern time zone, the company likely complied with the regulation, but they sure started calling early. Of course, I could put my cell phone number on the FTC's Do Not Call Registry, but then I might not get offered any more payday loans.

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