Editorial: Otoe-Missouria Tribe's lending operation is a 'scam'

The office of American Web Loans in Red Rock, Oklahoma, owned by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. Photo by Jane Daugherty

Connecticut newspaper criticizes the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma for operating an online lending business:
So, the tribe is trying to help its poor people by exploiting poor people in Connecticut and other states. This is kind of sad, but it should also be illegal.

The tribal lending organizations contend that although they might be subject to federal laws, they are not subject to state laws, and that Connecticut's action "violates the legal principles of sovereign immunity so deeply ingrained in the fabric of federal Indian law and policy," according to a legal brief.

Balderdash. Tribal sovereignty is a limited right to self-government; it is not a right to intrude on another state's right to govern itself. It should not enable lawbreaking in another state. If the tribes were, say, selling weapons that are outlawed in Connecticut, there would be an outcry.

Although banks and credit unions are trying to do more small-dollar lending, there are still people with weak credit who must use secondary lending markets. These folks are often in dire need of an influx of cash. They should have the chance to borrow at rates that are at least conscionable. The rates the tribes charge are higher than those charged by Mafia loan sharks, according to several Internet sources.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Out-Of-State Tribal Loan Sharking Shouldn't Fly In CT (The Hartford Courant 9/14)

Online Lending Court Cases:
Great Plains Lending LLC v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Banking
Shotton v. Pitkin

Federal Register Notice:
Public Input on Expanding Access to Credit Through Online Marketplace Lending (July 20, 2015)

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