Since 2003, federal, state, and local governments have been hustling to impose onerous restrictions on payday lenders, who offer high-interest, short-term loans, often taken out against the guarantee of a future paycheck. In response, payday lending increasingly is following the lead of other disfavored industries, such as tobacco and gambling, by seeking refuge on Indian reservations. 

Immune from state and federal rate caps, the Chippewa Cree tribe of Montana’s Rocky Boy Indian Reservation is offering short-term loans through a company called Plain Green Loans, which promises fast cash online. A large number of consumer complaints about collection snafus and other problems resulted in an F rating for the company from the Better Business Bureau. Shrinking the high-interest, short-term loan industry and pushing outlets onto tribal lands through overregulation means customers desperate for money may wind up with worse terms and service.

Colorado is attempting to quash an online lender owned by North Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, while similar battles are taking place in California, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, and West Virginia.