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The consumer watchdog has accused payday loan companies of "irresponsible lending", "pressure tactics" and other bad practices.
The OFT has given them them 12 weeks to prove they provide an important service, or else they could face closure.
However, there will be no cap on interest rates.
Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:
The government has decided against the idea of a cap on the cost of credit after an independent report it commissioned into the issue from Bristol University.
It concluded that evidence does not "show unequivocally" that interest rate restrictions would "reduce the cost of borrowing to consumers, particularly those on low incomes".
The research covered home credit, pawnbroking, retail payday lending (carried out instore) and online payday lending.
Sharon Collard, Director of the University’s Personal Finance Research Centre, said:
"At a time when UK households face unprecedented financial pressures there is a clear need to address the serious detriments that the research found.
"These include the cost of credit but also how lenders assess affordability, multiple and repeat borrowing and loan renewals.”
Responding to the Office of Fair Trading’s final report following its review of the payday lending sector, the Consumer Finance Association said:
The Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) review of the payday loan market found around a third of loans are repaid late or not repaid at all.
Twenty-eight per cent of loans are rolled over or refinanced at least once, providing 50 per cent of lenders’ revenues.
38 of the 50 lenders we visited failed to comply with at least one of the complaint handling rules set by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
A lack of awareness of the Financial Ombudsman Service’s rules was commonplace.
We asked you if you had used payday loan services before and if so, had they helped?
Here are some of your replies:
- Carly Michelle Jolley: They shouldn't be forced to change, they should be shut down!
- Linda Keeler: Am using one now and definitely helps me,I only borrow what I can afford to repay and I have a site which tells me how much I will repay on the due date before I agree to the loan. I must admit that the interest rates could be lower than they are but overall very handy for emergencies.
- Lili Millin: People don't have the choice with everything going up in price and not their wages, it's a vicious cycle... it's easy for people to say that people get themselves in these problems but when your bank won't help you... you have no choice.
The Office of Fair Trading has estimated that the payday loan market was worth £2.0 to £2.2 billion in 2011/12, which corresponds to between 7.4 and 8.2 million new loans.
This figure is up from an estimated £900 million in 2008/09.
The UK's 50 biggest payday lenders have been given 12 weeks to change their ways or risk their licenses after the Office of Fair Trading uncovered evidence of "widespread irresponsible lending".
Particular areas of non-compliance included:
- 30 of the 50 websites looked at emphasised speed and simplicity over cost -in some cases making claims that, it true, would amount to irresponsible lending.
- Lenders failing to conduct adequate assessments of affordability before lending or before rolling over loans.
- Failing to explain adequately how payments will be collected
- Using aggressive debt collection practices
- Not treating borrowers in financial difficulty with forbearance.
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The Citizens Advice Bureau offers some tips for people in financial difficulty to help them deal with their debt problems.