Payday loan neon sign. Predatory Lending.

HB 2685, introduced in a special session of the Illinois General Assembly, caps the APR on high-cost debt at the same 36% level that protects active-service military throughout the country. Woodstock Institute, the Illinois Asset Building Group, Illinois PIRG and a broad coalition of supporters hailed the effort by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, especially lead sponsors state Rep. Sonya Harper and state Sen. Chris Belt.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Predatory Loan Prevention Act Jan. 13. Once signed by the governor, the bill will implement a 36 percent interest rate cap on consumer loans, including payday and car title loans.

The legislation, SB1792, which passed with a bipartisan vote in both chambers, was filed as part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ economic equity omnibus bill, and was sponsored by Rep. Sonya Harper and Sen. Chris Belt. Senator Jacqueline Collins, chair of the Senate Financial Institutions, spearheaded the broad coalition that supported the measure.

In Illinois, the average annual percentage rate (APR) on a payday loan is 297 percent, and the average APR on an auto title loan is 179 percent. Federal law already protects active-duty military with a 36 percent APR cap. This bill would extend the same protection to Illinois veterans and all other consumers. Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia have 36 percent caps or lower.

Testimony & Background Data

Illinois has fallen behind on protecting consumers from high-interest, predatory loans, Woodstock’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Communication testified before members of the Legislature Sunday, January 10.

“On this issue, Illinois is behind the times,” testified Brent Adams, Senior Vice President of Policy and Communication at Woodstock Institute, which advocates for economic justice for communities of color. “Since 2006, the federal Military Lending Act has protected active duty military across the country with a rate cap of 36%. The Department of Defense had found that predatory loans were a threat to national security because of the stress placed on service members. Seventeen states and DC have caps of 36% or lower.”

“For decades, predatory consumer loans have stripped billions of dollars predominantly from families of color, trapping them in cycles of debt, making it impossible for them to build wealth, and causing them to forgo other expenses like health care and prescription drugs,” Adams stated.

Additional data is on coalition fact sheets on HB 2685-SFA3 and SB 1792 – HFA 3.

“According to data from the statewide database of payday loans, you are 13 times more likely to have a payday loan if you live in the Austin neighborhood as compared to the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago,” Adams added.

The Predatory Lending Prevention Act would prohibit lenders from charging more than 36% APR (annual percentage rate) on consumer loans. It would protect people like Chicago borrower Kesha (last name withheld by her request). Kesha received a title loan in January 2020 for $1,200 to help support her small business. She has paid back three times that much–more than $3,000– so far and still owes money.

The Illinois Asset Building Group (IABG) is a statewide coalition committed to expanding access to the tools families need to build financially secure futures. We advocate for policy and program solutions that address the growing racial wealth divide. Consumer advocates leaders in the fight for the Predatory Lending Prevention Act include Woodstock Institute, IL-PIRG, AARP, Heartland Alliance, and more. 

A growing number of organizations have signed on to the effort including (partial list) :

Industry 

  • Capital Good Fund
  • Lending Club
  • Great Lakes Credit Union
  • Marketplace Lending Association 
  • Seaway, a division of Self-Help FCU 
  • Second Federal, a division of Self-Help FCU 

Government 

  • City of Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot
  • Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia
  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
  • Office of the Illinois State Treasurer 
  • Office of the Illinois Attorney General
  • Office of the Illinois State Treasurer
  • Secretary of State Jesse White

Advocates 

  • AARP Illinois
  • Americans for Financial Reform
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
  • Catholic Conference of Illinois
  • Center on Tax and Budget Accountability
  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
  • Chicago Jobs Council
  • Chicago Urban League
  • Chinese American Service League
  • Citizen Action Illinois
  • COFI
  • Col. Paul Kantwill, USA (Ret); Prof., Loyola Univ. School of Law
  • Consumer Federation of America
  • Community Renewal Society
  • Credit Builders Alliance
  • Economic Security for Illinois
  • Elevate Energy
  • Faith Coalition for the Common Good
  • Gamaliel of Illinois
  • Heartland Alliance
  • Housing Action Illinois
  • Illinois Asset Building Group
  • Illinois People’s Action
  • Illinois Public Interest Research Group (IL PIRG)
  • Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • Junior Achievement of Chicago
  • Lawyers Committee for Better Housing
  • LIFT, Inc.
  • Metropolitan Family Services
  • New America Chicago
  • North Lawndale Employment Network
  • Northwest Side Housing Center
  • POWER-PAC IL
  • Revolution Workshop
  • SEIU Healthcare IL IN
  • Shriver Center on Poverty Law
  • The Low Income Utility Advocacy Project
  • The Resurrection Project
  • United Congregations of Metro East
  • Veterans for Common Sense
  • Voices for Illinois Children
  • Woodstock Institute
  • Working Credit NFP
  • YWCA Metropolitan Chicago