The political clout of payday loan companies has overwhelmed efforts by consumers, church groups, cities and even veteran lawmakers wanting to curtail the booming industry that has tossed many poor Texans into a Sisyphus-like climb up a mountain of debt.
Last year, he said, he helped an 86-year-old widow who’d been eating saltines for a week. She had lost her car, was frail and had been debilitated by stress — all after taking out a $75 payday loan.
The amount had mushroomed because of overdraft charges, fees and rollovers, into $5,600, and was taking everything she had. Smith helped her sue, and the lender settled out of court.