Debt charities have slammed the actions of two unlicensed payday lenders which target vulnerable borrowers by falsely claiming to be affiliated with religious institutions.
One lender, called St Paul's Cathedral Finance, claims to be a "Christian organisation" based at St Paul's Cathedral and has posted advertisements on various websites offering payday loans to those who need financial help.
St Paul's Cathedral said it has no connection with the lender. A spokesman said: "This firm has no link to St Paul's Cathedral whatsoever. We will be looking into this as a matter of urgency."
Another, called St Martin's Church Loan Service, claims to have a credit licence. But the Office of Fair Trading, the body which regulates the high-cost credit sector, confirmed that neither lender has a lending licence. Neither of the lenders responded to requests for comment.
Paul Crayston, from the debt charity National Debtline, said using religion to prey on the vulnerable is "completely unacceptable".
"If anyone is unsure that a lender they are considering borrowing from or have borrowed from is legitimate, they should seek free, impartial advice as soon as possible," he advised.
Una Farrell, from StepChange, another debt charity, said: "It is horrifying. I am worried people might think these firms are credible when they are anything but. If you are struggling with your debts then seek help."
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