Payday loans are set to 'double' warns debt charity

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Media captionThe Consumer Finance Association said most people pay back their loans on time and without penalties

A leading debt charity expects the number of people turning to them for help over payday loan debts to double this Christmas.

StepChange debt charity says around 30,000 have used the short term, high interest loans this year.

The charity says three years ago the number of clients using them was insignificant.

The Consumer Finance Association said most people pay back their loans on time and without penalties.

Payday loans, short term loans intended to be paid off on payday, were developed in the United States.

They have been criticised for charging interest rates in excess of 1,000% and for mounting penalties if customers fail to pay off loans in time.

When a client takes one out they give the company the right to access their bank account and take the money.

Daily fines

If repayments are not met, some companies impose daily fines.

StepChange (CORR) says three quarters of calls to its Cardiff office are people struggling to pay off the loans.

Huw Davies, from the charity, said: "The interest rates can seem quite high. I think one of the more worry things is the penalties when they can't maintain the payments to them.

"It's easy to understand why somebody with multiple loans cannot repay it in such a short period of time. So they do find themselves getting heavily charged, with the roll overs and the representing to try and take the money from the banks and the fees for that can be extreme."

The Consumer Finance Association (CFA), which represents the main loan companies, says the industry's new code of practice has brought in more robust affordability tests and increased transparency about charges.

A new regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority, comes into force in April.

The CFA says its members have more than 50 shops in Wales, employing 200 people.

It says the newly agreed code protects customers.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the CFA said: "Around about 85% of people - of customers that we've surveyed - have said they've had no difficulty paying back.

"Seventy per cent of people pay back their loan in full on the due date."

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