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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Payday Loan Companies Drinking In The Last Chance Saloon

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has come up with the unremarkable conclusion that there is evidence of widespread irresponsible lending by payday lenders.

The OFT has targeted the leading 50 payday lenders (which account for 90% of the market), and has proposed to refer the payday lending market to the Competition Commission.

Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, is quoted by the Telegraph:
"We have found fundamental problems with the way the payday market works and widespread breaches of the law and regulations, causing misery and hardship for many borrowers. 
Payday lenders are earning up to half their revenue not from one-off loans, but from rolled over or refinanced deals where unexpected costs can rapidly mount up."
The review carried out by the OFT noted that particular problem areas included; lenders failing to adequately assess affordability before lending, failing to explain properly how payments will be collected and aggressive debt collection practices.

The OFT noted that:
"Payday lenders' revenues are heavily reliant on those customers who fail to repay their original loan on time."
The OFT have now presented the 50 with the "last chance saloon option", namely that they must take "rapid action" to address the OFT's concerns and show within 12 weeks that they are fully compliant.

Any firms which fail to cooperate will face enforcement action.

Whilst the action will, to some extent, rein in the mainstream payday lenders there still remains those who operate outwith the law; namely loan sharks. Unfortunately those people, so desperate that they will borrow from payday lenders that charge extortionate rates of interest, who are denied credit from payday lenders in the future will be forced to go to loan sharks.

The fundamental problem is not that of extortionate interest rates, but of a large swathe of society that has run out of credit, cash and options.

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