If done right, the national regulations could ensure that consumers will be protected from payday lenders' worst practices, regardless of where they take out a loan.

But if regulators miss the opportunity to create comprehensive rules, lenders could continue exploiting loopholes and trapping borrowers in a long-term cycle of debt. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs to ensure that this doesn't happen.

Payday loans were in the national spotlight recently at a CFPB field hearing in Nashville, Tenn., and at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on alternative financial products. At the field hearing, the CFPB released a white paper finding that the vast majority of payday loan borrowers take out multiple loans in a row.

The data fly in the face of claims that industry representatives made at the hearing that payday loans are used for one-time emergencies.

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