a bulldog against a backdrop of cages

TAB Bank is helping EasyPay Finance evade Illinois laws that prohibit 189% APR loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACTS:    

Brent Adams, badams@woodstockinst.org, 773-844-5544

Jane Doyle, jdoyle@woodstockinst.org, 708-527-7568

In advance of National Love Your Pet Day on February 20, Woodstock Institute is teaming up with national consumer and animal welfare advocates to launch a campaign to stop TAB Bank from making predatory puppy loans. 

At pet stores across the country, Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB Bank) is helping predatory lender EasyPay Finance evade state interest rate laws and make pet loans at 130% to 189% APR (annual percentage rate) – rates that are illegal in most states for EasyPay and other lenders that are not banks. Illinois established an interest rate cap of 36% last year, but it is not known whether EasyPay chooses to comply with it. To see which stores in Illinois offer EasyPay loans, go to https://findastore.easypayfinance.com/.

Consumer and animal welfare advocates are calling for TAB  Bank to stop helping EasyPay gouge consumers with these loans and for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to stop TAB Bank from facilitating evasions of Illinois law. The campaign includes:

  • A new report describing how TAB Bank helps EasyPay make predatory puppy loans;
  • A February 15 rally with the Utah Humane Society at the statehouse in Salt Lake City to spotlight TAB Bank’s role in financing predatory puppy loans;
  • A February 17 social media storm – using #PredatoryPuppyLoans, #PredatoryTABbank and #LoveYourPetDay;
  • An effort to collect stories from people impacted by predatory puppy loans;
  • A focus on how predatory financing promotes the sale of puppy mill dogs;
  • A petition to urge the FDIC to stop TAB Bank and other banks from helping predatory lenders disguise their loans as bank loans that are exempt from state interest rate limits;
  • Work to broaden support for the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act, which would set a national 36% interest rate cap;
  • And more to come …

“I’m a dog dad. My dogs are my family,” said Brent Adams, Senior Vice President of Woodstock Institute. “TAB Bank and EasyPay know the love of an animal will push many people into one of their predatory loans. This is financial exploitation of the worst kind.”

EasyPay offers financing for purchases at pet stores, auto mechanics, furniture stores and other retailers at rates ranging from 130% to 189% APR. In 32 states where those rates are illegal, it launders its loans through TAB Bank, headquartered in Utah, to disguise the loans as bank loans that are exempt from state rate caps. In states that allow these high rates, EasyPay extends financing directly. 

Hundreds of consumers have submitted complaints about EasyPay (owned by the company Duvera Billing Services) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Better Business Bureau, and Ripoff Report. They describe: sky-high interest rates with payments that go mostly to interest; high rates even for military servicemembers; deceptive interest-free promotions; debt collectors hounding people for money; and credit reporting abuses. For example:

  • A New Jersey consumer went into a pet store “in hopes of purchasing a cocker spaniel….I found that I am being charged 151.97 % which is five times the legal limit of 30% that can be charged in New Jersey.”
  • A military consumer in Florida described “the egregious interest rate” of 130% APR for a dog.
  • Another person complained that a pet store would not take back a dog that was sick and eventually died: “I had no choice [but] to continue to pay them [so] as not to ruin my credit history, all while trying to save a dog paying thousands [of] dollars in veterinarian bills…. It tore my family apart losing the dog. My children were especially devastated…. I only borrowed [$2200.00] and it is reporting I owe [$5500.00] on my credit report due to interest.”

These and other stories are described in a new report on Predatory Puppy Loans by TAB Bank and EasyPay Finance.

Last week, more than a dozen advocacy organizations called for the new leadership at the FDIC to stop banks from fronting for predatory lenders through these schemes.

Background on puppy mills

Last year, in a major win in the fight against cruel puppy mills, Illinois’ Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Humane Pet Store Bill into law. This effectively closes out a profitable sales channel for puppy mills and will drive the Illinois pet market towards more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders. Read more about this new law here.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a puppy mill is an inhumane, high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their parents. Puppies from mills are often sick and unsocialized. Breeding dogs are often confined to small, filthy cages for their entire lives, bred repeatedly until their bodies wear out.

Puppy mills keep this cruelty hidden by selling through third parties like pet stores. Pet stores often push lending options on their customers with false promises of low interest rates only to hand them over to third party lenders like EasyPay. The HSUS recommends that those looking to add a new pet to their family avoid pet stores and instead adopt from a shelter or rescue or seek out a responsible breeder that only sells directly to the public. For more information about puppy mills, including B-roll of puppy mills or pet stores, or to interview an HSUS representative, please contact Kirsten Peek at kpeek@humanesociety.org.

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Woodstock Institute is a leading policy and research nonprofit that advocates for consumer financial protection and community economic development. Our work seeks to combat structural inequities and to improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Among our areas of focus are predatory lending, access to banking, debt collection, and municipal fines and fees.