Officials in three large U.S. states – Illinois, New York and California – are simultaneously taking initial steps aimed at taming the largely unregulated realm of online small-business lending.

The recent burst of activity in state capitols comes in response to pleas by nonprofit lenders that operate in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Those lenders are being barraged with requests for help from troubled business owners whose financial problems became more severe after they took out high-cost online loans.

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