Atlanta, GA, February 9, 2023 – Today, Representative Josh Bonner (R – Fayetteville) introduced House Bill 342, known as the Motor Vehicle Title Loan Act, to require statewide regulation of car title lenders who prey on cash-strapped Georgia families, often trapping them in a cycle of debt. The bill would make car title loans subject to the state’s 60 percent cap on interest rates. Currently, a legal loophole allows car titles to be “pawned” at interest rates as high as 300 percent.
Rep. Bonner, who chairs the House Defense & Veterans Affairs Committee, says his bill intends to protect all Georgians from predatory, high-cost loans. “The Department of Defense already protects active-duty military servicemembers from interest rates above 36 percent. This bill moves toward extending similar protections to all Georgians, especially veterans. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to see that this bill becomes law,” said Rep. Bonner.
If passed, HB 342 would authorize the Department of Banking and Finance to regulate car title lenders as they do all other lenders in the state and require lenders to return to the borrower any surplus obtained if the vehicle is repossessed and sold.
The statewide consumer advocacy organization Georgia Watch has long advocated for consumer protections for title loans. “Car title lenders take advantage of Georgians when they are desperate for cash,” said Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch. “We strongly support HB 342 and thank Chairman Bonner for introducing this legislation.”
A poll Georgia Watch commissioned in November 2022 shows the majority of Georgians support regulation of title lenders. “Seventy-one percent of those polled said car title lenders should be regulated,” Coyle said. “We urge legislators to listen to the voices of Georgians and take steps now to protect financially insecure consumers from these harmful loans,” she added.
About Georgia Watch
Founded in 2002, Georgia Watch is a statewide, non-profit consumer advocacy organization working to inform and protect Georgia consumers on matters that significantly impact their quality of life, including the effects of predatory business practices, the high cost of utilities and healthcare, and restricted access to the civil justice system..