Federal regulators have been inundated with messages calling for looser restrictions on payday lenders — and a lot of them look alike.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received about 27,000 messages urging regulators to ease proposed Obama-era restrictions on short-term, high-interest loans — and thousands of them are duplicates, apparently created via pre-written letters supplied by the payday loan industry, according to consumer group Allied Progress.
While the duplicate messages appear to fall on both sides of the issue, the vast majority of those surveyed by The Post — maybe nine out of 10 — appear to call for deregulation of payday lenders.
Allied Progress, which is against loosening payday loan rules, released a report Tuesday showing that at least 7,000 of the messages share personal stories about how payday loans helped them — and are copied verbatim hundreds of times.
“I borrow from Cash Connection to help maintain my home. I needed to replace my hot water tank,” is language found in at least 216 letters, signed with names like Wanda Rix and Susan Rust. “Borrowing a small loan allows me to leave my other money alone so that I can still pay my regular bills.”
A representative from Cash Connection didn’t return a request for comment.
The flood of messages has come almost entirely since May 3, just weeks before the May 15 deadline, when the public comment period for the controversial rules would close, according to the dates of the letters posted by the CFPB.
Regulators are required by law to read through and consider all public comments about new rules — which could drag down the process.
Marisol Garibay, a CFPB spokeswoman, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.