• Sun. Nov 28th, 2021

Democrats challenge Stefanowski over payday loans

ByCindy J. Daddario

Mar 9, 2021


ctmirror.org

Matt Lesser speaks to the press. He is flanked by Bobby Gibson, Bob Duff and Sarah Poriss.

Democratic lawmakers said Monday that the story of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski as chairman of DFC Global ties him inextricably to the “unscrupulous, illegitimate practices” of a payday lending industry now banned from doing business in Connecticut.

Stefanowski, who was DFC’s CEO until January 2017, said he would not seek legislation that allows Connecticut payday lenders to do business.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk and Rep. Matt Lesser of Middletown, co-chair of the Legislature’s Banking Committee, joined Rep. Bobby Gibson of Bloomfield and Sarah Poriss, a lawyer representing debtors, on one of the Connecticut. organized press conference at Democratic Party.

“When I look at Mr. Stefanowski’s defense of this unsustainable product, preying consumers, trapping them in debt and poverty, I have real questions about whether he would put Connecticut consumers first,” Lesser said.

Lesser said too many people think payday loans are not an issue in Connecticut.

“This idea is completely wrong,” said Lesser.

While state law currently bans it, the industry is regularly lobbying state lawmakers to expand its market, Lesser said. Connecticut voters need to know how the next governor would react to such efforts.

A spokesman for Stefanowski said his government would protect consumers, but he dismissed the press conference as a feat.

“Bob intends to appoint a bank commissioner whose primary goal is to protect Connecticut consumers and who knows the banking industry inside and out,” said spokesman Kendall Marr. “However, Bob also understands that the opposition will continue to stage political stunts to distract from the fact that their policies led directly to the economic disaster our state is facing.”

Duff said Stefanowski made “a fortune trying to take advantage of people”.

Before Stefanowski took over in mid-2014, DFC looked at what regulators on both sides of the Atlantic were calling predatory credit and collection practices, some of which were fraudulent auto loans to US military personnel. Other lines of business included pawn shops and check cashing businesses geared towards the poor.

Stefanowski has said he ended some of the company’s most abusive practices, but Lesser and others said Monday that being a good guy in bad business is not legitimate in order to be governor.

“I’ve never seen a payday loan designed to help a consumer,” said Poriss.

In interviews with CT Mirror, Stefanowski has defended his record in the leadership of DFC Global.

DFC has never stopped offering payday loans, and Stefanowski says that despite the industry’s poor record, they can be a responsible form of doing business. However, he would not propose legalizing Connecticut, nor does he defend the industry in general.

“I’m not advocating anything like what payday lenders have done in the past,” said Stefanowski.

Without giving details, Stefanowski said Connecticut consumers could benefit from some types of subprime credit that are currently banned.

“I think what I would say is that I’m not sure which model will work right for Connecticut,” he said. “I haven’t looked at it in enough detail. But there should be something in the state that gives people access to credit in this area. It would be one of the things I would think about in a fair and just way. “



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