The Daily Record

Protesters: Don't Use Jackson Hewitt Loans

Daily Record — Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BY ROB JENNINGS
Daily Record

photo of 'shark protest'PARSIPPANY A dozen protesters from at least five states converged on Jackson Hewitt Tax Service's national headquarters Tuesday to assail what they termed abusive lending practices.

Protesters said the company unfairly charges for making loans based on anticipated income, whether from future paychecks or from tax refunds.

The protesters' plan was to present a $74.5 million, "rapid refund" check for company CEO Michael Lister to endorse but were denied access to the building on Sylvan Way.

Other than a security guard, no company representatives met the group when they showed up at 2:30 p.m. Protesters also brought along two inflatable sharks to drive home their point.

Two police cars stood ready nearby, but the protest started dispersing after about a half-hour.

Earlier in the day, protesters – representing groups from California, North Carolina, Illinois and New York – held a related demonstration in Trenton, alleging that the company charges too much and aims at less-well-off minorities.

"Consumers are fighting back," said Phyllis Salow-Kaye, executive director of the group New Jersey Citizen Action.

So-called "RALS," or refund-anticipation loans, can carry interest ratesfrom 40 percent to 70 percent – well above the normal rate, the groups said.

Jackson Hewitt spokesmen did not return a phone call for comment.

"It's really important for us to educate consumers," Salow-Kaye said, of the Jackson Hewitt business practices. "This is a bad thing."

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