“Oh, what a day: Payday loan protesters rally at Bank of America office”
On Monday, the bank was forced to close a branch in the Cleveland suburb of Akron.
On Tuesday, it was forced by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to close another one in Cincinnati.
In the meantime, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Columbus to protest the bank’s handling of payday loan borrowers.
“We want payday loan companies to have to live up to their obligations, and to be transparent about their business practices,” said Brittany Todt, a protester.
“The people are furious.
This is a government that is broken.”
The Ohio attorney general said his office had taken several legal action against payday loan lenders to force them to better disclose how many borrowers were receiving them.
Ohio Attorney Generals office announced Monday that it is launching a “pro-consumer and pro-consumer-driven” investigation into payday loans in Ohio.
In a letter to banks, DeWines office wrote that “these practices, which have resulted in payday loans becoming an increasingly popular choice for many Americans, pose a risk to Ohio’s consumer financial system and could undermine the integrity of the financial system.”
The office also said the banks had “failed to adequately protect Ohio’s consumers from fraud and other abusive practices.”
In the letter, the office said that the bank, like many others, had been exposed to the payday loan fraud that is so common in this state.
“You should be embarrassed that you allowed this to happen,” the office wrote.
“It is a serious breach of trust, and it is costing Ohioans thousands of dollars.”
On Monday morning, more than 2,500 people gathered in front of Bank of the Ohio office to protest.
Some protesters were wearing masks, and a banner hung from a car.
Another banner read: “Payday loans are the new payday.”
Protesters chanted, “Banks are not bankers.”
On the same day, a group of protesters also held signs reading “I’ve had my bank” and “We are angry, we are tired, and we are not going back.”
“We’re tired of having to get into a room to talk to people about their problems,” said Dwayne Hodge, a resident of Akron who attended the protest.
“People don’t have to be told what to do, and they’re not going to have that conversation with their bank.”
A protester held a sign that read, “It’s a scam!”
The Ohio Attorney general’s office said it was launching a national investigation into the bank over the weekend.
“Our office is committed to protecting the interests of Ohioans, but we also recognize that we have to take a much harder look at what is going on here,” said DeWene’s press secretary, Mark W. D’Alessio.
“These predatory payday lending practices, in addition to the millions of Ohio residents who have been hurt by this predatory lending, are putting thousands of Ohio families in debt.”
The company also announced it will give Ohioans $1.7 million in refunds to help them repay their loans.