To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash.
But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards.
In lean economic times, people with public pensions ”” military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others ”” are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations, but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.