Payday loan firms 'bombarding vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls'

 

Personal Finance Editor

Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.

StepChange’s research revealed that those targeted are being offered high-cost credit an average 10 times a week.

Frighteningly, half those who received calls went on to take out a payday loan, suggesting the lenders have got their tactics right in persuading vulnerable people to borrow short-term credit.

But people tempted to take out a loan by the call have ended up in financial misery with the average amount of borrowing taken out as a direct result of the calls standing at £980, with one or more lenders, according to StepChange.

“Nuisance marketing calls can be harmful and push financially vulnerable consumers deeper in the downward spiral of unsustainable borrowing,” said the charity’s boss Mike O’Connor.

“For those in financial difficulty, the offer of an easy, no-questions asked loan can seem like a financial lifeline. But the reality is that it can be a financial noose around the neck of vulnerable people and their families.”

He believes that a weak data protection regime has allowed a market to flourish in which personal information is obtained, sold and used to market to financially vulnerable consumers.

Under existing rules, selling mortgages through unsolicited calls is banned and the charity believes that the same stringent rules should apply to payday lenders.

The charity is today calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to close the regulatory gap that allows for the “unsolicited real-time promotion” of high-risk credit products.

“We need action from the FCA to ensure that unscrupulous firms can no longer exploit people’s financial troubles in this way,” demanded Mr O’Connor.

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