New York’s ban is one of the nation’s toughest. Whether they’re made online or at a strip mall, loans with triple-digit APRs (annual percentage rates) violate the state’s 1976 usury law, which caps rates at 16 percent. The state lacks the power to regulate commercial banks – such as Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo – who are overseen at the federal level and allowed to charge 29 percent or more on credit cards. But payday lenders are considered non-banks, so licensing and regulation fall to the states. First-degree criminal usury is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Any non-bank lender who charges more than 16 percent interest in New York is subject to civil prosecution; charging above 25 percent can subject lenders to criminal penalties
In 2004, when Elliot Spitzer, then attorney general, discovered that lenders were circumventing the state law by lending on-line, he sued one of the lenders, Las Vegas-based Cashback Payday Loans, and shut down servers in the state that had been throwing up payday loan Websites, forcing Cashback to pay restitution to customers. Read more