Budget panel to consider rent-to-own changes

CREATED May. 19, 2013

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MADISON -- The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is poised to consider provisions in Gov. Scott Walker's executive budget that would exempt rent-to-own stores from Wisconsin's consumer protection laws.

Rent-to-own businesses offer customers a chance to rent items such as appliances and electronics with no credit check. Customers can exit and rejoin the deals as they wish with an option to buy the items when they complete their contracts.

Critics contend the businesses charge exorbitant interest rates and prey on the needy. But industry advocates counter the contracts aren't credit transactions and shouldn't be subject to the state's consumer protection laws.

Walker's budget would create a new section of law governing rent-to-own that wouldn't require the businesses to disclose interest rates.

The finance committee is expected to review the provisions Thursday.