Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 1, 2013

Local Cash Store fined for glossing over terms

Nicole Dominique
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — A hefty fine should prevent The Cash Store from glossing over certain terms and policies with customers in the future, said Susan Hofer, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation spokesperson.

The Effingham location, an extension of Cottonwood Financial Illinois, was fined $15,600 in the department's December Disciplinary Report for not accurately disclosing annual percentage rates, payment schedules and payment totals to customers.

The violations were discovered during a periodic examination of the institution.

"There are a lot of very specific rules," Hofer said. "The customer was not told the real annual percentage rate, the schedule when those payments need to be made and the total number of payments."

Such specifics should be included in the loan agreement and are usually listed on the last page of the loan, along with the cost of each payment and the total amount the borrower will pay back. Customers were not being given that information.

The Cash Store also received a title-secured loan violation for not offering accomodating payments.

"With the title-secured loan, you as the borrower have the right to say, 'I want to make weekly payments,' etc.," Hofer said. "That way you get to decide based on when you get paid."

Payments can be made weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly.

Hofer said some institutions "have a history in Illinois of not making sure their customers understand how much they borrow and what the cost will be."

The fine wasn't the largest in the state's December report, with amounts ranging from about $1,000 to $26,000.

"We hope that what it will do is to encourage them to be more careful in following the rules and making sure the customers know what they're signing," Hofer said. "That's the reason for all these rules."

Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at nicole.dominique@effinghamdailynews.com.