Inquiry into how payday lenders treat borrowers

The way payday firms treat struggling customers will come under scrutiny by the City regulator, which has announced a new inquiry to see how sympathetic lenders are when borrowers have trouble paying back their debts.

Payday lenders are facing a new inquiry to see how sympathetic they are when customers struggle to pay back their debts Credit: PA

The Financial Conduct Authority, which takes over supervision of the consumer credit market, including payday firms, from April 1, wants to see whether payday firms and other high-cost short-term lenders are putting too much focus on profits rather than consumers' interests.

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It is treating the investigation as "a priority" because three-fifths of complaints to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are about how debts are collected, and more than a third of payday loans are repaid late or not at all - equating to around 3.5 million loans each year.

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The FCA said its new rules should reduce the numbers, but it also wants to see struggling borrowers helped by discussions on the different options open to them rather than "piling on more pressure" by simply calling the debt collectors.

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Payday lenders to face regulator's 'sympathy test'

The City watchdog has announced it is to investigate lenders to see how sympathetic they are when customers struggle to pay back debts.