UTAH (ABC4) – In honor of National Love Your Pet Day on Feb. 20, a national campaign has been launched and it’s calling for an end to predatory puppy loans that are being fronted by a Utah-based bank.

Stop the Debt Coalition is teaming up with animal welfare advocates to launch a campaign to stop Utah-based bank, Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB), from making predatory puppy loans, many of which go to buy puppies from puppy mills, a press release states.

According to the National Consumer Law Center, TAB is helping predatory lender EasyPay Finance evade state interest rate laws and make pet loans at 130% to 189% APR (annual percentage rate).

These rates are illegal in most states for EasyPay Finance and other lenders who are not banks to set.

Since most states do not allow these rates, EasyPay launders its loans through TAB for customers who live in states with APR caps.

There are 32 states where those rates are illegal, EasyPay will launder its loans through TAB, headquartered in Utah, to disguise the loans as bank loans that are exempt from state rate caps. This is how they are able to charge loans from 130% to 189% APR.

Consumers complaints to the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Ripoff Reports say:

  • Most of their payments is going to interest since the interest rates run from 130% to 189%
  • There are deceptive interest-free promotions, with consumers often unaware of the high interest rates on the loans.
  • Debt collector harrassment
  • Refusal to cancel loans for puppies that were sick and died
  • Credit reporting problems

According to the Humane Society of the United States, the majority of puppies sold in pet stores – where EasyPay Finance and TAB Bank operate – are from puppy mills, inhumane high-volume dog breeding facilities that churn out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers.

“TAB Bank’s partnership with EasyPay Finance promotes exploitative financing of puppies from inhumane, high-volume dog breeding facilities that ignore the needs of the puppies, including proper veterinary care and early socialization, said Rachel Heatley, Advocacy Director of the Utah Humane Society.

On Feb. 15, a rally will be held at the Salt Lake City statehouse from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. to “spotlight TAB’s role in financing predatory puppy loans.”

Last week, over a dozen advocacy organizations called for the new leadership at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to stop four Utah-based banks from laundering predatory loans to vulnerable people.