EU targets payday loan sites that break rules

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Payday loan firms which flout European consumer rules will be shut down, the European Union said this week. Its investigations found that four out of five UK online credit companies failed to provide basic information required by law, such as the cost of borrowing.

While the EU inquiry looked at credit card companies and personal loan firms, the payday loan victim Steve Perry has discovered a number of short-term lenders which fail to meet their legal obligations. He writes about the lenders which flout the rules on his website

"Last month I reported one payday lender to the OFT for trading without a consumer credit licence after I discovered its licence appeared to have expired in December 2010," he said.

"Another site was missing some of the very basic elements of regulations on payday lending." For example, the site had no mention of representative APRs and no actual contact details for the company, he pointed out. "On top of that the company is passing itself off on its home page as being a payday lender, but it simply acts as a broker introducing borrowers to lenders," Steve said.

The Independent was unable to contact anyone associated with the site or the payday lender to check their credentials or authorisations. But Steve has discovered that there are a number of other broker websites which offer loans but which fail to comply with the credit rules. "When you look at some of the sites you very quickly realise it's an absolute minefield of deceit and bad practice," he warned.

Googling "payday loans" yields details of many online firms which appear to offer cash in a hurry to desperate borrowers. But at many of the sites it's impossible to find cost and length of borrowing details, which would help them to comply with the EU Consumer Credit Directive.

Legitimate payday lenders say they are keen to see rogue firms closed down. Gary Miller-Cheevers, boss at speedeloans, said: "Most borrowers just want to know how much their loan is going to cost and when they've got to repay it. Websites that don't include that information are being irresponsible."

The EU has asked European finance authorities to investigate the rogue sites by this autumn. It has promised then to name and shame the companies that have been fined or shut down as a result of the investigation.