The Trading Standards Service is Northern Ireland’s answer to the Office of Fair Trading and, like its brother organisation over the Irish Sea, has been peering into the antics of the short term loans companies as some of them have been causing some concern to sections of the Northern Ireland community.
The results of their latest investigation have been revealed a few days ago and there are certainly some aspects of short term loans practice that need some attention, according to the TSS.
Payday loans lenders have actually been around in one form or another for quite a long time in Britain, with their intention normally to lend out small amounts of money to people who pay it back when they get their next wage or salary instalment. What has helped to fuel the demand for short term loans has partly been the ease in getting a loan using electronic technology and the convenience of the internet coupled with a real need for short term cash solutions in these economically troubled times.
However, despite the real reasons why people are seeking out instant cash loans, the TSS has found that some of the companies are not being accurate enough about the conditions of their loans, particularly the amounts that people will need to pay back.
This is not to say that there is outright fraud involved, but it appears a reluctance to spell the interest payments that will have to be paid out in simple to understand English.
The other issues that drew the attention of the TSS investigators were the fact that loans were being extended or “rolled over” to use the correct term far too readily and loans generally advanced without any real check to see if somebody was actually capable of paying it back.
The results far too often that people who were suffering real financial problems were steadily getting themselves more and more into debt rather than getting out of it.
A spokesman from the TSS said that they were going to contact non-compliant traders to either get them to raise their standards or revoke their licences.
The tip of the payday iceberg may have been the optimistic lender who promised to pay an instant no credit check loan to the disguised investigator in 24 seconds flat!
Now, that’s service!