CRAIGAVON Councillor Mark O’Dowd has advised families not to use companies offering ‘pay day loans’ in the run up to Christmas.
Acknowledging that while the financial pressure families faced at this time of year was excessive, the Sinn Féin councillor warned these loans were more like to increase economic woes.
Mark revealed that the enormity of the problem had been brought home to him after a constituent contacted him for help. He said,
He explained, “After being made redundant, this individual had taken out a relatively small loan to buy Christmas presents. He then found himself unable to meet the short payback time but the interest rate continued to grow.”
The councillor urged people to think twice before getting involved with companies offering this style of loan. He said, “These are the very people most unlikely to meet the short pay-back deadline, and as a result, their debt continues to grow at an unreasonable rate. While the companies are acting within the law that is not the same as acting ethically.
“Targeting the most vulnerable in our society with loan-terms that will be difficult for them to meet is immoral. Instead of helping people, they are being plunged further into debt.”
He continued, “The Assembly has not got the authority to regulate these lenders and in the absence of such powers the Consumer Council needs to look into the issue of exorbitant interest rates.”