Arizona voters banned payday lending agencies from operating in the state two years ago, but that hasn’t stopped some businesses from continuing to court customers in Southern Arizona.
The statewide ban on short-term payday lending is a restriction on the interest rates a company can charge for a loan. No business can offer loans in Arizona with more than a 36 percent annual interest rate.
Arizona voters agreed to let the industry "sunset," or stop allowing higher interest rates to be charged, which caused brick-and-mortar payday lenders to close their doors or changed the way they operate.
But some companies are still offering short-term, high-interest loans to Arizonans over the Internet, said Nick LaFleur, spokesman for the Southern Arizona Better Business Bureau.
"These companies ... market all over the Internet, including in Arizona, and a lot of them will lend to people in Arizona regardless of the law," he said.
The bureau advises customers to be careful whom they give their information to, especially on the Internet.
“Online financial transactions like this can be very dicey, because there isn’t the accountability. Somebody could set up a website in an hour and start doing payday lending illegally of course," he said.
Tucson customers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau because online payday lenders made unauthorized automatic withdrawals from the customer’s bank accounts, LaFleur said.
The bureau warns people that it is hard to follow up with a company that exists only online.