SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) —One Savannah-based company is allegedly taking advantage of those who find themselves in need of a cash loan and putting them in what borrowers tell us is thousands of dollars of debt.
Georgia is one of the only states that has very few, essentially no, laws to protect consumers from title loans, a type of loan that uses a borrower’s vehicle as collateral.
Georgia residents say they’re suffering as a result, telling me they’re struggling to get ahead of sky-high interest rates and debt that won’t stop piling up.
“Do not take a loan with title max because you’ll never pay it off. They’ll see to it that you don’t pay it off,” James Williams, TitleMax loan recipient said.
James Williams is a disabled veteran.
He takes care of his mother – who suffers from dementia.
He tells me he took out a TitleMax loan for $6,000 in an emergency, and after paying more than $20,000 on the loan, he still owes them thousands of dollars.
Williams says TitleMax is also threatening to repossess his car, meaning he can’t drive. Instead, he says he keeps his car stowed away in a garage.
He tells me if he’d known the outcome ahead of time, he never would’ve taken out the loan.
But Williams says no one at TitleMax ever explained the terms of his loan, and he says the company still won’t give him a clear answer.
“They don’t even show you when the account started. They just show you that month, and that’s it. They don’t show you anything. They’ll tell you how much you gotta pay to pay this account off. They don’t tell you the initial loan, how much you paid into this thing, nothing,” Williams said.
Other TitleMax borrowers recounted similar stories.
“It was nothing conspicuously explained to me. There was no…there was no thought in my mind and no word that they said that made me believe there would be a new contract every month. She never mentioned any fees accruing,” Dejané “Deja” Hester-Taylor, another TitleMax loan recipient said.
“I had to find that out myself, and I had to pay additional late fees after I had paid the original cost because this wasn’t explained to me,” she continued.
Deja is in her early twenties, and she tells me her experience with TitleMax has caused her anxiety and emotional distress.
“I get anxious immediately when I walk outside, and I don’t see my car right away. It’s definitely taken an emotional toll, and even speaking with them, every time they call, I get anxiety, like ‘oh my gosh, they’re calling again, and literally, there’s nothing at this moment that I can do,” she said.
Williams told me he doesn’t expect TitleMax to work with him – or anyone else.
“They’re not gonna work with you. All they want is their money, and just keep getting money, money, money. That’s all they want,” Williams said.
News 3 reached out to TitleMax’s parent company, TMX Finance, for comment, but we did not receive a response. If you’re in need of cash in an emergency, experts say think twice before taking out a title loan and explore all other options first.