Survey says military families are turning to dangerous payday loans for help due to COVID-19

Mayport, FL. — Military families are struggling during the pandemic and it’s even causing some to turn to dangerous payday loans.

Action News Jax Alicia Tarancon reports on one important resource to help families make better financial decisions.

Petty Officer Second class Shamiah Dee has worked at Naval Station Mayport for more than 10 years and she remembers when she needed $1,800 dollars for a car repair.

She turned to a the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society for help, and they quickly answered the call.

“I took my car that evening, so yeah, it was really quick,” Dee said.

But the organization said not everyone knows about what they offer.

Instead some military families are turning to dangerous payday loans.

“Some of these payday loans, they charge 36% interest,” said Barbara Dulaney, the director of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society said.

That means these families are paying back a lot more than they borrowed.

According the National Foundation for Credit Counseling payday loan usage increased during the pandemic.

In 2020 it found that 31% of active duty service members took out a cash advance or pay day loan compared to only 13% in 2019.

Dee says she had family members get caught up in risky payday loans in the past.

“I kind of learned from watching them go through a mess with it so it’s kind of like eh… my mom always said don’t do that. You need some help, ask, we’ll find something,” Dee said.

Last year the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society helped more than 900 sailors at Naval Station Mayport and provided more than $700,000 dollars in financial assistance.

The organization said the best way to spot a bad pay day loan is pay attention to the interest rates and back away if the offer seems too good to be true.

The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society wants military families to know there are safer options out there.

“We provide interest free loans, everything we do is need based interest free loans and grants for the services that we provide,” Dulaney said.

For more information on the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society and all the services it offers for military families you can click HERE.