Defining Victimhood Down

According to the Associated Press, a Georgia man is claiming that he was the victim of “predatory lending” when he took out a high-interest loan that he ultimately defaulted on. He now claims that this loan was against federal law which prohibits predatory lending to members of the military.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Georgia-based soldier is suing a business that loaned him $4,100 at high interest, saying the terms violated a 2007 federal law that protects military service members from predatory lenders.

Army Staff Sgt. Jason Cox of Fort Benning says the car-title loan he took out last year cost him more than $4,000 in interest alone. He defaulted and the lender repossessed his Dodge Durango. …

Barnes is seeking class-action status because the lender, Community Loans of America, has more than 900 stores in 22 states. It’s not clear how many military members have been affected.

I wonder how you can be a victim of a loan agreement you entered into voluntarily? Barring some evidence to indicate that this man was deceived as to the interest rate and other pertinent requirements of the loan agreement, it’s hard to see how this sort of loan is illegal.

It may be unwise to take a loan with such a high interest rate, but making an unwise decision only makes you a victim of yourself.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Vlad

    Its illegal because there is a law against it.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      So that makes it ok?  Isn’t the law kind of…stupid?

      It used to be that women voting was against the law.  I guess the suffragettes should have kept their mouths shut because there was a law against it.

      • robert108

        False equivalence.

  • Eurdiceaugust

    It’s hard to know the details of this based on the article, but what troubles me about the argument that “you shouldn’t have taken the loan in the first place” is this: What about people who aren’t smarter than the banks? I mean, what you’re really saying is that anybody who doesn’t understand the terms of a loan or even doesn’t understands the consequences of a contract deserves what they get. 

    I’m pretty good with money, but not everybody I care about can say the same. They don’t know what questions to ask, what gotcha’s lenders can build into the contract…That’s why there are laws against usury and such. Are my less savvy loved ones just SOL? Is that the kind of society you’d like to see us building here?

    • yy4u2

      They probably shouldn’t vote either then.  If you don’t know what you can afford, then you shouldn’t put other people on the hook by voting for the person that passed out cigs, snacks, and a ride to and from their precinct of choice.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t think understanding the concept of an interest rate is all that hard.

      People who can’t grasp that concept should probably have some sort of guardian taking care of them.

      • Eurydiceaugust

        C’mon, there can be a lot of sneaky language in lending contracts besides simple stating of interest rates. Is there a penalty for paying off the loan early? What other fees or penalties have you signed up for? Is there a binding arbitration clause? Can the lender raise the interest rate? When? And under what circumstances? 
        I think you’re being disingenuous, and I would bet you wouldn’t let anyone in your family go to a car dealership for a loan with no more than a basic understanding of interest rates.

        • robert108

          Unless you can show that his contract contained any of that, you have no point.

          • Vlad

            All I have to show is that the interest rate is too high and the loan was made to a member of the military.  This company knows what the law is.

      • Vlad

        Many members of the military are straight out of high school and it is there first job.  They are away from home and have never had money before.  They aren’t always savvy and these loan companies contact them with slick sales pitches. 

        This can cause severe financial problems.  The military and congress decided this was a bad situation and was hurting the readiness of our military.  They passed a law.  This company knows about the law.  So, I don’t feel sorry for them in the least.

  • robert108

    Real freedom requires responsibility.

  • orville

    He could have taken the contract to his base legal office fro review before signing, they would have checked it for free. He is a staff sargent, not someone straight out of high school, although he is an idiot.

  • Davoarid

    Capitalism means we’re free to decide what sort of businesses and what sort of business practices we want to allow in our society.

    We’ve decided we don’t want to support businesses that sell child porn, meth, or 108% APR loans to Iraq War veterans.

  • JustRuss

    Every company that I have ever seen since that law passed, has a statement you must sign in bold print:

    “I certify that I am NOT an Active Duty member of the US Military”

    If he signed the contract then HE is at fault and the military will hold him accountable. I had at least 3 people at my last command get in trouble for getting themselves into trouble. Not only did the military force them to pay the loan back (after getting involved and getting the interest rate cut or reducing the amount owed in some way) but these people ALSO go restricted to base or barracks and part of their pay cut for a month.

    He’s lucky if his command hasn’t stepped in and smacked him around for being an idiot.  Then again, the wussification of the Armed Forces had already begun when I was in, I can see how they would now support him on this, possibly the legal advice they gave him was to sue.

    Far more likely he didn’ talk to JAG, instead he probably talked to what we referred to as “Sea Lawyers”,  friends who pretend they know the law and convince you of things that just arent true.

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