A few days ago a moderator at the following forums requested that I take a look at what they've created:
Debt Consolidation Care Forums
I've been around the 'net for a while. Because of that, in most cases, a URL like "debtconsolidationcare.com" would cause me to instantly discount the site and not give it so much as a glance. This time, however, I went ahead and visited.
Surprisingly, I believe there's some value to be had. (NOTE: I'm NOT talking about the "debt consolidation services" provided at the site; I didn't examine that portion of it at all. Rather, this post reflects only my thoughts on the community-powered forums.)
At the link above, what you'll find is a high-traffic set of message boards — not terribly fancy or contemporary — wherein users display a serious lean toward helping folks get out of the clutches of what's so lovingly called "payday loan hell." They appear to be a knowledgeable (certainly more so than me on this topic) and helpful group. I had to look very hard to find posts and requests for help that went unanswered.
Thankfully, I've never had the privilege of visiting PDL Hell — which is where you go when you get wrapped up in multiple payday loans and their astronomical interest rates. When your payments don't come close to covering the interest and fees, and when you're effectively using one payday loan to pay another, then you know the red gates of PDL Hell have opened wide, and you've arrived.
Financially (and otherwise), it's a disastrous place to be.
Probably the most interesting forum, for me, was the set of Community Success Stories. What I quickly discovered was that folks there had, with each others' assistance, had a substantial amount of success getting the internet-variety payday-loan places to reverse huge amounts of fees and clear their accounts as PAID. How'd they accomplish this?
Well, to be blunt: written threats. Located at that site is an extensive page which details each state's state laws regarding payday loan establishments. What many users have found, apparently, is that if they live in states where internet payday loan services are either (1) not registered to do business, or (2) not allowed at all, then letters to these companies — as well as to the state's attorney's offices — can be pretty effective.
Faced with the possibility of (valid!) legal action, the internet-based payday agencies will often crater to user demands, issuing refunds for fees paid and writing off accrued interest. This isn't typically an "instant result," of course. But in the few hours I spent reading the community stories, I found that as is so often the case, persistence wins a LOT of tough battles.
Stuff I Learned
The folks at CashCall aren't stupid. They're not a true "payday loan" entity. They're backed and validated by a licensed banking institution, which means they can do pretty much what they want. They're relentless, and getting out from under their clutches (at least in the ways you might do with other internet lenders) and their 99-point-whatever percent interest rates is next to impossible. I thought this quote (from a moderate named Goudah) pretty well summed it up, regarding CashCall:
Getting Specific: Some Helpful Pages
Sample Creditor Letters - Database
User-Created Creditor Database
Regarding Closing Your Bank Account