Celebration and worry now that payday loans are not available

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PHOENIX -- The clock is ticking for payday-loan companies all over the state. At of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, an exception that allowed payday-loan companies to charge well above the allowed 36-percent annual interest rate for loans expires. That means payday loans with exorbitant interests rates -- up to 400 percent in some cases -- will be illegal.

Dozens of payday-loan stores have already closed their doors. Others are switching focus to other products like car-title loans.

There is, however, some concern that some payday loan businesses will continue to operate as they do now and perhaps disguise their loans.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Attorney General Office announced Operation Sunset, which is designed to crackdown on illegal loans.

Starting July 1, a hotline will be up and running for people to report problems.

Attorney General Terry Goddard said his team will aggressively pursue payday lenders who continue operations.

"The Operation Sunset Enforcement Team, which is comprised of attorneys, investigators, and paralegals, will respond to consumer complaints, perform undercover operations, shut down operations that attempt to offer payday loans after the sunset and, where appropriate, bring claims for injunctive relief and civil penalties against those who violate the law," Goddard said on his website.

The Operation Sunset hotline number is 1-866-879-5219. You can also email operationsunset@azag.gov.