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Job losses, repossessions and suicide: the truth behind payday loans

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

Citizens Advice has described some payday loan problems as ‘absolutely horrifying’ as people face losing their jobs, homes and one person even contemplating suicide.

The evidence comes as MPs are set to vote on a bill tomorrow (Friday), which seeks a clamp down on payday loan advertising.

Citizens Advice analysed feedback from payday loan customers, reported to the charity through its payday loan tracker, in June and July this year.

Some of the most serious cases include:

Borrower contemplated suicide: a payday loan customer said they contemplated suicide after they were contacted 20 times a day from the lender who even called their employer to chase their debts. The borrower now deems payday lenders to be ‘callous uncaring vultures.’

Job at risk with just £1.17 to live on: one borrower feared he would lose his job and home as payday lenders left just £1.17 of his weekly wage in his bank account, leaving him without money to pay for travel to work or board where he was staying.

Discount loan offered after original repaid: a borrower was pestered with numerous phone calls, texts and emails offering to roll over the loan. As soon as the loan had been repaid they then got a text offering a new loan at a discount rate.

Payday lender takes money for bailiff pay off: the money a person had put aside to pay off a bailiff for council tax debt was taken from their bank account without any warning. They’re now worried they’ll end up in court due to the council tax debt.

The charity has expressed concerns that adverts for payday loans mask the hardship and devastation caused by irresponsible lending and ‘appalling’ treatment of the industry’s customers.

Chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Some of the problems reported to Citizens Advice about payday loans are absolutely horrifying. People are in severe debt and distress because of the exorbitant pressure payday lenders put them under to repay unmanageable loans.

“I’m appalled that some payday lenders are still treating their customers this way. Lenders need to seriously clean up their act so that people who are looking for short-term credit have responsible market to engage with.

“The Private Members Bill going through Parliament on Friday is a step towards protecting people from predatory payday lenders and I encourage Members of Parliament to support it.”

Some payday loan customers reported to Citizens Advice that once they had paid off their loan, they were contacted by marketing calls and text messages offering further loans at a discount price.

According to recent research from MoneySupermarket.com and mental health charity, Mind, finances are the biggest daily stress for 16 million Brits and the charity has been vocal about the connection between debt and deterioration of a person’s mental health.

Recent figures from Citizens Advice found that in more than 4 out of 5 cases where people are struggling to pay back the loan, lenders aren’t freezing interest or charges nor are they treating people sympathetically – despite vowing to do so.