Payday loan stores in Arizona prepare to change or close

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It's an industry that fought and clawed to stay alive, but the voters, and then the legislature, decided otherwise.

When the sun sets Wednesday night, so will the laws allowing payday loan stores to charge 400% annual interest rates.

Payday loan stores are quite literally everywhere, but starting Thursday things won't exactly be business as usual.

"What they can no longer do is make these 400%, 2 week loans secure by an unfunded check," David Higuera is one of the people who fought to rid Arizona of the industry.

July 1st will be a victory for him and all who wanted an end to the high interest rates, but he's not backing down yet, "We're gonna continue to stay vigilant. We know from other states that payday lenders don't just shut down and walk away."

Opponents predict many payday lenders will try offering auto-title loans to stay in business. But the same can't be said for Check 'n Go.

A company spokesman said all 34 Arizona stores will shut down this summer.  A Check 'n Go on 12th Avenue closed a couple weeks ago.  In total, about a hundred Check 'n Go employees statewide will lose their jobs.

"For every one employee at a payday loan store, research shows there's over 160 people trapped in payday loan debt," says Higuera.

While places like check 'n go will be shutting down, there are other alternatives for people who rely on the payday loan industry.

"I think most credit unions, probably 5 to 10 percent of their checking account holders already use payday lenders," says Pyramid Credit Union CEO Ray Lancaster.

To help members get back on their financial feet, some credit unions offer short term loans capped at 18%, and a checking account with a $500 overdraft line of credit.

"Our goal is to get our members to save money and to get out of debt, to pay off your mortgage, to pay off your car loan, and so we approach it a little differently," says Lancaster.

It's an approach not offered by the payday lenders who have one more day before the sun sets on their practices.

The Attorney General's office says payday lenders have bypassed restrictions in other states by continuing to charge high interest rates and fees on other products.  So, they plan to monitor the industry when the law changes on Thursday.