This is the first in an ongoing series on short-term lending. The Denton Record-Chronicle news staff gathered a number of government records under Texas open-records laws for these stories as part of Sunshine Week 2013.
To determine the scope of payday and title lender presence in Denton, we first gathered information from Reference USA, available through the Denton Public Library. That database uses information reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on types of businesses and later confirmed by Reference USA. We checked that data not only by requesting registration and compliance records from the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner — a year-old law requires payday and title lenders to register with the state — but also by driving to listed and known locations.
We also requested Uniform Crime Reporting data, as reported by the Denton Police Department to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for 2008 through 2012. We used database and mapping tools to examine the data.
Sunshine Week began in 2002 with the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors after the Florida Legislature proposed scores of exemptions in that state’s open-records laws. Since then, Sunshine Week has grown into a national initiative to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information.