Senator Nelson signs bill to prevent lenders from ripping off service members

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Senator Bill Nelson has filed new legislation to help U.S. service members in the long run.

He told a group of local veterans he signed a bill to keep lenders from charging more than 24 percent interest for most loans.

If it passes, the bill would also crack down on debt collectors making harassing phone calls to a service member's commanding officer and offer more protection toward those who have been discharged from active duty for up to one year through the Military Lending Act.

"We've got a real problem," Senator Nelson said."Almost half of the enlisted non-commission recruits go out and are taken advantage of when they get their paycheck by the payday loan folks. A dozen years ago, this was so bad they were charging 100 to 150 percent interest on payday loans.

Senator Nelson passed legislation in 2006 capping the interest rate at 36 percent, but he said that wasn't enough.

Here's a copy of the bill.