» more from Slideshows

Payday Advances - $40 billion

Payday lending is a controversial, yet widely used component of the consumer financing industry, with about $40 billion in short-term loans extended to cash-strapped working individuals, according to the Community Financial Services Association of America.

A payday advance is a small, unsecured short-term loan, normally between $100-$500 with typical interest rates between 15-20 percent and maturities of about 14 days. The idea behind this lending is that people who need fast cash can use their expected payday earnings to immediately pay back the loan.

However, because of the short term of maturities, APR for payday loans can be anywhere between 400 and 700 percent and, if not immediately paid in full, individuals can get themselves into serious financial trouble.