January 2008

Safeguard Your Bank Account

Safeguard Your Bank Account

When working with payday loans, protect your ability to open a checking account. Remember, payday loans are based on either checks or debits to secure the loans, which makes it easy for the payday lender to collect the money through the borrower's bank account. This encourages loans to be renewed when the borrower does not have enough money in order to avoid bouncing the checks. You must not write a check if you do not have the money in the bank to cover it.

Sometimes it is better to close your existing bank account and open a new one in order to gain back control over escalating loan payments and Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) charges that come when a payday lender continues to try to collect on a check that you gave them, and your banker is the best person to determine when it is time to do this.

When you get into trouble, talk to your banker right away before the payday loans start bringing overdraft fees. If your account is closed because you continue to have overdrafts, you could end up on a list that keeps you from getting another checking account for up to five years. Your bank can also work with you to stop payments from being made to lenders who have electronic access to your account.

If you do not pay your loan, some states allow lenders to take civil action against you under civil bad check laws. However, most states do not allow payday lenders to file criminal cases on the grounds of a bad check having been written.

What to Know About Stopping Payment on the Check

If you order a stopped payment on a check that you used to get a payday loan, you have not canceled the contract you signed stating that you would repay the loan. Before you ask your bank to stop payment on the check that you wrote for your payday loan, which you might be tempted to do to stop the many NSF fees that are accruing, you need to consider a few things.

First, tell your bank before your loan comes due if you do not want the bank to pay the check when the lender asks for payment. You can orally ask the bank to stop payment, but this type of agreement only lasts for two weeks. You must complete it with written notice within fourteen days.

Banks charge a fee between $18 and $32 to stop a check, and this is similar to a bounced check fee. You will need to tell the bank the check number, whom it was made out to, the exact dollar amount, and the date you wrote it.

The order to stop payment on a check lasts for around six months. After that timeframe, the person or company that holds the check can present it to the bank again, and it will be processed unless you put another stop payment on it, and pay another fee. Be sure to check your bank statement for old checks. If you see them, ask your bank to put the money back in your account and send the check back as stale dated if it is older than six months.

The payday loan laws in some states put borrowers at risk for legal action if they order a stop payment on the check that they used to get a loan, close the bank account the check is written on, or both actions, no matter what the reason.

Payday lenders in Alabama and Alaska can pursue criminal action when borrowers do not make good on the check they used to secure a payday loan if that check gets returned because the borrower closed the bank account.

Colorado and Wyoming have laws that held consumers accountable if they close the bank account before the loan comes due. In North Dakota, the law states that borrowers cannot close their accounts at the time they receive a payday loan.

Missouri and Hawaii have laws that allow borrowers to face criminal prosecution if they order either a stop payment, or if the check is returned to the lender because the consumer closed the account.

Lenders in Mississippi can pursue criminal action if the payday loan check from the consumer bounces.

Arkansas law considers it a crime to close an account or stop payment on a payday loan check.

Lenders in Utah can sue for triple damages if a borrower cannot pay a check used for a payday loan. However, lenders in Utah cannot threaten criminal prosecution.