More than a century ago, Alabama enshrined a basic protection in the state’s constitution shielding its poorest citizens from being forced to pay debts they couldn’t afford. But a public hospital in the mostly rural southeast corner of the state has found a way around the law.
USA Discounters, the Virginia-based retailer at the center of a ProPublica investigation in July, says it has made reforms to its lending practices to service members. But instead of overhauling its policies, the company has simply adopted a new name for its stores, USA Living, and continues to make loans much the way it did before.
High-cost lenders—the makers of payday, auto-title and installment loans—exploit laws tipped in their favor to sue tens of thousands of Americans every year. The shocking result? A $1,000 loan grows to $40,000.