Once again the British coalition government are reportedly threatening to do something about Wonga and the other rip-off loan sharks, who prey on the poor and vulnerable. Vince Cable has pronounced! These are always empty threats – strong words and no action! Oh yes the regulators plan to ban their advertising – when? Later of course!
Other counties have banned these companies, but our conniving MPs couldn’t face up to that – decided against it (and simply told the companies to please ‘reform’ – fat chance of that of course!). Some local councils have though started to ban payday loan ads (and their own computer internet access) – Plymouth, and Islington for example. But is that enough to solve the problem? Unfortunately not! Their outlets are increasingly opening on our High Streets (hundreds and hundreds of them) – they are classified as financial institution (like Banks), so the current planning laws can’t stop or hinder them!
The Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby) has been publically very vocal about the evil of payday loan companies, and wants to put them out of business by building an alternative network of credit unions (a bit cynical when it turns out that the Church had invested in Wonga through an online capital investment company; Wonga is one of the best known though not the biggest payday loan operator in the UK!).
In America loan companies are charging something like four hundred percent APR – these loans are legal and regulated in a lot of states, but in a dozen or so state laws make them illegal or not feasible [Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts (partly), New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia]. In the UK it a free for all – and people get sucked into serious financial trouble. Wonga as said to charge nearly six thousand percent APR on its loans – ouch!
Columbia control the interest rates (maximum 24% the same as banks), New Mexico restricts total loans and prohibits rollovers.
One of our major football clubs in the North East have further damaged their increasingly sinking reputation by having the Wonga name on their shirts , and are sponsored by them – yet that is an area of the country with the poorest people and highest person insolvency!
Our major charities believe that the personal loan industry is out of control – many believe that they are the biggest threat to personal debt, because they are so readily available (without proper credit controls), and they use the power of strong advertising. They hound vulnerable people and treat them disgustingly with their charges. They pride themselves in how quickly they can make the loan and get the money into someone’s account – and they then competed with each other to be the speediest.
Over a million people a year took out payday loans in the UK (over four million loans and they borrowing over a billion pounds). It is a money spinner for the lenders so is a rapidly growing industry. There are something like 250 of these predatory operators – time to kill them all off!
[Don’t hold your breath though, our parliament doesn’t have the willpower to do anything good or worthwhile].