Thinking about a payday loan? You might get a surprise!

Bankruptcy can be the best option for a new beginning free from overwhelming debt.  For someone suffering through constant collection calls or pending repossessions, filing for bankruptcy can provide a welcome injection of immediate relief.  Some of this relief comes in the form of an automatic stay.  Filing for bankruptcy creates the stay, which forces most creditors to stop collection activities against the person filing for relief.  After enduring incessant calls, demanding letters, or threats of lawsuits, you will breathe your first sigh of relief when the stay is in place and the collection attempts finally stop.

Unfortunately, some types of creditors may not have to comply with this automatic stay.  Many Native American tribes have formed lending companies to capitalize on the demand for short-term loans, although the actual business operations for these companies usually take place far from the tribal lands via the internet.  Native American tribal lenders may be immune to the automatic stay order from a bankruptcy filing if a 2020 Massachusetts bankruptcy court decision is any indication (In re Coughlin).  This means that even after you take the important first step in filing for bankruptcy, you could still receive collection calls, letters, or lawsuit notices from these companies.  In other words, collection activities by these lenders may continue, despite the automatic stay.  For this reason, it is especially important for anyone interested in short-term “payday” or installment loans to select their lender carefully.

Payday loans have gained popularity as a quick solution for emergencies, but they have also been scrutinized.  Federal regulations are in place to protect consumers from dangerous lending practices like predatory interest rates.  However, because Native American tribal entities operate under separate and sovereign governments from the United States, the U.S. federal regulations may not apply to them.  Even when you start the process for relief from crushing debt by filing for bankruptcy, these tribal lenders may continue trying to collect.  In addition, these lenders have been criticized for charging extraordinary interest rates that would typically be regulated.  In the event of a bankruptcy filing, the convoluted ownership structure of the companies can also make it harder to provide legal notices.

Consumers should investigate the lender’s website to see if a tribal association is declared.  For example, the Plain Green lending company has an area of small print on the bottom of its site disclosing that it is owned by the Chippewa Cree Tribe, a sovereign nation.  The same is true for Silver Cloud Financial, which prominently touts its “easy” and “quick” loan application information throughout most of its site.  Only upon digging deeper into subsections of the site can a consumer discover the lender’s affiliation with the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake tribe.  In other situations, you can ask the lender directly about its ownership or simply enter lender’s name and the words “tribal lender” in a search engine like Google.

Here is a list of some of the other tribal lenders: Bright Lending (Fort Belknap Indian Community)
Eagle Advance, LLC (Nation of Santa Ysabel)
Sky Trail Cash (Lac Du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians)
Cash Aisle (Lac Du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians)
Greenline Loans / Waawaatesi, LLC (Lac Du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians)
UbiCash (Lac Du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians Tribe of Wisconsin)
MobiLoans, LLC (Tunica-Biloxi Tribe)
Golden Valley Lending (Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, California)
Ladder Credit (Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians)
Green Arrow Loans (Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians)
Tremont Lending (Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians)
Uncle Warbucks (Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake)
American Web Loan (Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians)
MaxLend (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation)
SpotLoan (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota)