They are parasitic by nature. They feed off of the weak and helpless. How do I know? I know because I was one of them. The stories are all around us. They are in every headline, gobbling up time in most state legislatures, reeking havoc on Wall Street. This year, it’s all about the predatory lending outrage. A little over a year ago, I was looking for a career change. I happened into one of the many “payday loan” places. The hiring manager explained the job to me and all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. People actually get an advance on their pay? You are kidding me, right? Nope, that is what the payday loan business is all about. I filled out the application, submitted my resume, and was hired as an assistant manager with the largest payday loan company in the industry. It was just too easy. No more late nights, no more weekends, great benefits. By the way, my previous work experience is primarily management in the hospitality industry, 25+ years. I just love helping and taking care of people. Then the real fun began. I had never done collections before. A job at this particular payday loan company is about 90% collections. After the first month or so, I started to understand how the payday loan business really worked. I had my doubts and misgivings. I managed to stuff them into that dark place that we never consciously visit. That place where our past nightmares live, though we never open that door or acknowledge that they actually exist. I started job hunting and the company knew it. I was promoted and given my own center. I convinced myself that I was happy. I became involved in the local community. I organized an outreach program for the needy in each of our payday loan center’s neighborhoods over the holiday season. Yes, I had finally gotten back to helping people and doing what felt right. I spent allot of time explained to my customers how to get out of the payday loan trap that they had gotten themselves into. One thing led to another. Two of my “company standard” numbers started dropping. Never mind the fact that my buyback rate (the percentage of customers who come in with cash in hand to get their check back before we run to the bank and cash it ourselves) was higher than that store had ever seen. Never mind that my payday loan customer base was growing because I was holding more live checks, or that I had few collections to deal with. My customers were getting smaller payday loans than in our other centers. My superiors wanted to know why. I was counseled about how the idea was to get the customer to “turn their check” twice a month if they were paid twice a month, weekly if they were paid weekly, monthly if they were paid monthly. The idea was to offer them the maximum payday loan that they “qualified” for. After all, we made our money off of those fees. So if John Q. Customer gets paid every other week and brings home $600.00, he should be getting payday loans for $500.00. That way, he pays us $575.00 out of that $600.00 check. He has to come back the next day. That is the right way to make money in the payday loan industry. I was later transferred to another center because the one that I was in was going to close at the end of its existing lease. This center was much larger than my previous center and in allot of trouble due to mismanagement. I was told that I was given this one because I had done such a great job cleaning up the last one. I was told that if anyone could get this payday loan center in order, I was just the person to do it. On March 1, 2007 I got a call from my boss. This call was all about mandatory cuts to take place immediately. I was told that it was because they had given a “number” and had to hit it by the end of the quarter. It just did not fly with me. What company, payday loan or otherwise, waits until the 3rd month in the quarter to decide they need to get their numbers in-line? I opened that door. I spent the weekend of the 3rd – the 5th looking up information on-line. What I found made me physically sick. The payday loan industry watchdog group, CFSA, was making changes. Good for them. Unfortunately, the watchdog group is made up of the payday loan industry leaders. I started searching the news for current events with regards to payday lending. I found out what the majority of people actually think. I found the information on predatory lending. Is this really what I had been doing with this last year? Was I hurting these people too? I found the current payday loan legislation before my state’s Senate. This led me to what the current revised code is that regulates the payday loan industry in my state. From everything I could see; we were breaking the law. On March 7, 2007, I spoke with a lawyer friend of mine who told me to just let it go and stop looking for information. He told me that if I was going to insist on reporting my findings that I should do so anonymously after I left. I just did not like that answer. I felt like I had about a years worth of pond scum to wash off. I had a years worth of wrong that I had to make right. On March 10, 2007, I resigned without notice. Something I had never done in my 30 years in the workforce. No, I have never been fired, down sized, or let go either. I called my local Attorney Referral Service on March 12, 2007, who in turn told me to contact the Attorney General. I filed my complaint with the Attorney General on March 13, 2007. Now, I watch the news about how slowly but surely these scum sucking parasites are being put out of business. I wish that I had never walked through those doors a year ago, into a job that was just too good to be true. I wait on a response from the Attorney General. I wonder if I will ever feel clean again. I first documented this information for myself in March, 2007. Since then I have also contacted my state’s TV stations, the AARP, and the FDIC. To date, I have not received one response. OK, well aside from it being returned by my state’s TV stations as unread; the AARP because I’m not 50 yet so they can’t help; and the FDIC because it’s not their department. It makes me wonder. Does anybody care? Better yet, does anyone care enough to do something about it?