Simon Read: Official probe should consider banning payday lenders’ ads


It's speed, not price that makes payday lenders uncompetitive, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) revealed when referring the sector to the Competition Commission.

In other words vulnerable people targeted by unscrupulous lenders are so desperate for cash that they ignore that astronomical APRs and just want to know how quickly they can get their hands on the cash.

This suggests they need it for real emergencies. Not to pay for an expensive burger to munch happily while calculating deadly cutbacks, but to buy bread and milk to feed their families or pay for heating or lighting before being cut off.

When you're one step ahead of the bailiffs, speed can be important. But turning to payday lenders is never a solution. With the OFT accusing them of making half of their profits by rolling over loans, a short-term loan will turn into a long-term debt disaster.

So complaining about payday lenders' high interest rates is a waste of time. The real solution to curbing their dodgy activities is to stop them targeting hard-up people who can't afford the loans. And a key part of that is banning their adverts and dodgy marketing. I don't think we need to ban lenders, but just ensure that anyone using one chooses to do so, rather than be flogged a deal they can't afford.

So let's get rid of their annoying ads from our airwaves and publications and stop them tempting people into debt. The ads sucker in people who probably wouldn't have used payday lenders – and who almost certainly can't afford them. Twitter: @simonnread

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