Can You Go to Jail for Lying to a Payday Loan Company?

By Steve Smith

  • Overview

    Payday loan companies are in the business of giving cash loans to you in advance of a paycheck. They usually charge a huge amount of interest on that loan, which is used to cover the costs of frequent non-payment by the people they loan the money too. The higher the risk, the more interest a bank must charge. That being said, you might assume many people lie to the payday loan company and maybe you are one of them. Can you go to jail?
  • Considerations

    The information you give to a payday loan company is not the type of information you can go to jail for lying about. If you lie or falsify information on a payday loan application, in most states the fault is with them, not with you. However, in some states there may be laws and penalties for giving false information on any type of application. It then becomes a question of what you lied about.
  • What Can You Lie About?

    Generally speaking you cannot lie about your identity when you get a payday loan. If you use a false license or any identity that you stole, you could go to jail. The state could charge you with identity theft. However, the charges would probably come from the person you stole the identity from, not the payday loan company.

  • Giving a False Address

    If you give a false address to a payday loan company, you probably won't go to jail. A payday loan company is not a police officer or court, so you aren't obligated to give a real address. People use this method to get out of paying debts all the time. They are called professional debtors and they rarely go to jail.
  • Lying About Your Income

    In order to charge someone with a crime, there has to be evidence that you committed the crime. Lying about your income is not illegal. Unless that application is a certified tax document or government paper, you haven't committed any crime. It would be up to the payday company to have verified this information in order to give the loan. They could be held liable for issuing a bad loan if they failed to verify the address, so odds are long you are going to jail for this.
  • Falsifying a Pay Stub

    Falsifying a document can be considered a crime. Committing this offense could fall under state embezzlement laws, but it is quite a stretch to believe a prosecutor would take the case. As long as there is no legal government (state or otherwise) form involved, you cannot be charged with any crime. In fact, even lying on your tax return is not a crime. It's wrong, but it is not a criminal offense. Evading taxes however, is a crime, and that is an important distinction to make.
  • Closing Arguments

    Only if you act in such a way that you can be charged with embezzlement or fraud, will you be facing any type of jail time. Payday loans are given on a contract, so you will only be in trouble if there are laws that prohibit lying on contractual agreements, or your lying can be perceived as an act of fraud. Payday loan companies and debt collectors are not allowed to threaten jail time if there really is no threat of you going to jail.
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