September 30, 1999

Understanding Predatory Lending: Moving Towards a Common Definition and Workable Solutions

Deborah Goldstein

W99-11: To date, various parties have used the term "predatory lending" to describe a wide range of abuses. Regulators, industry and advocates have not agreed on a single definition, but have used the term individually to refer to different practices and loan terms. This paper describes predatory lending as a set of loan terms and practices that falls between appropriate risk-based pricing by subprime lenders and blatant fraud. Thus, all subprime lending is not predatory, but typically relies on risk-based pricing to serve borrowers who cannot obtain credit in the prime market. The higher degree of risk associated with subprime borrowers requires a higher cost for a subprime loan. At the other end of the spectrum, cases of blatant fraud are predatory, but less common and can generally be combated with current criminal statutes. The most difficult cases are those in which loan terms seem out of line with standard prices. In particular, high-cost loans coupled with unscrupulous practices that pressure a borrower into a loan are predatory. The paper sets forth three potential regulatory and legislative solutions that may address the issue of predatory lending…

Category: Working Papers

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