In the Spring of 2013, my husband, Pastor Carlos Valencia, and I had just finished dinner when we got one of those heart wrenching visits at home, where a church member or neighbor appears broken and suffering. Mrs. Mendoza (not her real name) was desperate, defeated, and ashamed. She didn’t know who to turn to other than her pastor, someone she trusted.
In tears, she said was responsible for her family losing their home, and she was about to lose her car: She was too frightened to tell her husband. We were shocked, confused, and angry. How could this good, hard-working family lose their home?
Mrs. Mendoza had fallen behind when a few bills were higher than usual. She got tired of asking friends for help. She remembered seeing big signs and commercials for payday and auto-title loans, claiming they could help. When she visited one, she learned that a small loan seemed so easy. All she needed was a pay stub to verify employment and a checking account to automatically withdraw her payment. Mrs. Mendoza walked out with a $300 loan that would cost her “only” $75, to be paid off within two weeks.
that quick transaction turned into a horrifying journey, a never-ending debt-trap. Two weeks later, she had to extend that initial loan and pay another $75. Eventually she had to take out one loan after anotherto pay off the interest and fees she owed, which accumulated every two weeks.
She was so overwhelmed by her debt, and harassed and threatened by their collectors, she saw no other answer to than to use money intended to pay her mortgage. This cycle went on for several years, and she ended up paying over $10,000 for a loan that began at $300.
My husband and I scrambled to call banks, lawyers, and anyone we thought could ...1
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