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Watchdog eyes logbook loans after 33% rise in three years

Lenders can repossess a car if their loans are not repaid. Photo: PA

Logbook loans are on the rise. Borrowers take out short term lending secured against their car. Like the better known payday firms, they often advertise as fast with few or no credit checks.

Figures released to us from a Freedom of Information requests show:

  • a 33% rise in logbook loans in the last three years
  • a 61% rise predicted within the year
  • almost 60,000 expected in 2014

Like payday lending, logbook loans are intended to be short term - but the APR interest is often hundreds of percent and there can be a variety of late payment fees. Britain's financial watchdog has told us of its concerns.

Logbook loan firms say the fact that they are rising in popularity demonstrates the benefits they offer.

They claim their strict code of practice goes beyond existing regulations and that any complaints they receive are investigated.

But it is clear that Britain's most powerful financial watchdog is poised to take a much closer look.

The Financial Conduct Authority has started doing its own research into logbook lending - and I'm told we can expect some initial findings next month.

Meanwhile the Citizens Advice Bureau, who obtained today's new figures on the rise of these loans, have been tracking problems.

They are calling for much more scrutiny. After all we have had a lot of publicity about payday lending - but for many the very concept of a logbook loan will be new.

Although the market in logbook lending is small, the level of consumer detriment in this market is high.

Irresponsible lending and aggressive debt collection practices are common because there is no incentive for the lender to negotiate when the consumer gets into payment difficulties as they can seize the asset after issuing a default notice.

– Citizens Advice Bureau

The industry believes there are already strong rules - it has developed its code of practice with government and says it would like to see much more detail on any complaints the CAB may be handling.

But a lot of concern stems from the fact that the actual law used by these firms dates back to the 1840s - long before cars were even invented.

It means that to take your car the loan firm does not need to return to court for an order - and some letters from some of the firms emphasise this and say they don't need either to give any warning of when they'll come to tow away a vehicle.