A 36-year-old father set himself on fire last year after being hounded by payday lenders. An inquest heard this week how Antony Breeze died after telling passers-by who tried to help: "I've had enough."
The Bolton man – who had a five-year-old daughter – owed just £1,600 to several lenders, including Mobile Money, 247Moneybox.com, Cash Genie and Valour Loans.
Short-term loans from the firms are charged at astronomical rates. For instance 247Moneybox – which uses a cute pink cartoon pig to advertise its deals – quotes an actual per centage rate (APR) of 4,301.9 per cent on its website.
Mr Breeze's girlfriend reported at the inquest that he had received a stream of calls and texts from loan firms on the night before he died.
The next day he told her he was going for a walk but was apparently sent texts by three firms before buying a £3 can of petrol and heading to a secluded pathway. Once there he poured the petrol over himself and set it alight. Mr Breeze later died in hospital from 73 per cent burns.
Uncaring loan firms then contacted Mr Breeze's father to chase the outstanding debts.
Payday lenders have been accused of targeting vulnerable people with extortionate interest rates. And when they get in trouble, some lenders encourage them to get further into debt by rolling over loans.
The Office of Fair Trading is planning to report the sector to the Competition Commission.