WISDOM has a history of working to ensure consumer protections, especially on issues that impact those with limited incomes. Many of our affiliates have worked on payday loan and auto title loan issues. We call on your support once again! Joint Finance Committee and the state Legislature are trying to sneak in policy to permit rent-to-own stores to not disclose interest rates during the final stages of Wisconsin's budget process.
Rent-to-own stores let people rent products like electronics or furniture with the option of eventually buying them. Many such stores don't operate in Wisconsin because the state's Consumer Act forces them to disclose their interest rates, which can run more than 200 percent. Using high-cost financing contracts that require customers to make weekly or monthly payments, rent-to-own stores have a business model to intentionally prey on the poor much like payday loan stores.
What’s at stake:
Without credit checks or down payments, rent-to-own agreements are especially attractive to customers with poor or no credit. However, the interest rates charged on these transactions can be as high as 200 to 400 percent. An appliance costing $600 retail can end up costing a customer $2400. Currently, Wisconsin treats rent-to-own transactions like credit transactions and requires certain consumer protections, including the disclosure of interest rates. The Joint Finance Committee is working to remove these protections by exempting rent-to-own agreements from the Wisconsin Consumer Act.
What you can do:
1. Call your legislator: Tell them that proposed policy in the state budget to exclude Rent-to-Own transactions from the Wisconsin Consumer Act is wrong! It’s wrong to charge 200-400% interest rates and not disclose the cost upfront! Consumers should know and understand the total cost and terms of what they are purchasing. Need help finding your legislator? http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
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