In May, after calls for tighter payday loan regulations and fines levied against companies for deceptive practices, Google banned all payday loans from its search results. The ban went into effect on July 20, but more than two months later, the ban appears to have had little effect. Ads for payday loans and other high-interest loans continue to appear in Google results, and the search engine seems to have lost little in Ad Words revenue.
This is not due to a lack of effort on Google’s part. The company did put a ban in place, but it had specific parameters that payday loan companies quickly learned to circumvent. The ban stated that the loans advertised had to have an interest rate of 36% or lower, and must allow at least sixty days for repayment.
Many of the ads that now appear on Google state that those are the terms of the payday loan. However, at the end of those terms, a symbol denotes several small lines of fine print at the bottom of the ad. These lines of small text state that these terms are only an example and that the actual rates may be different.
Few ads found on the site actually violate the new policy. A Google representative has said that the search giant will continue to police ads and will ban those that directly violate the policy.
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