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Cash Converters pulled up over pay day loans

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, March 24 NZPA - The Commerce Commission and second hand goods trader Cash Converters have reached a settlement over the company's pay day loan contracts.

As part of the settlement the 12 Cash Converter companies across the country accepted they breached the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act with their Next Pay loans, the commission said today.

Next Pay loans are generally for a term of four weeks. There is no interest charged but each loan includes an establishment fee and a data management fee. Next Pay loans are for a maximum amount of $1000.

The commission found the inclusion of certain costs within the set up fees may be unreasonable under the Act.

The Act strictly limits what lenders can recover through such fees. The fees must be equal to or less than the actual costs of setting up the loan and must only recover costs relating to set up.

When calculating loan set up fees, Cash Converters included the cost of bad debts and defaults. As part of the settlement Cash Converters accepted they breached the Act, as including such costs in set up fees was unreasonable as they were not costs related to establishing a loan.

However, the commission accepted that the breaches were not deliberate and Cash Converters cooperated fully with the investigation.

Under the settlement, Cash Converters have agreed to redesign their Next Pay loans to ensure that future loans complied with the Act.

The company also agreed to make donations totalling $60,000 to five community based groups that provide budget advisory services.

Lenders needed to be careful when calculating establishment fees to ensure that the fees related only to the cost of establishing loans, said Graham Gill, the commission's Auckland fair trading manager.

"Default costs cannot be charged to customers at the time they enter into a loan. These costs can only be charged, by way of a default fee, to customers who are actually in default. Similarly, lenders cannot use a fee as a way to recover bad debts."

Payday loans were often entered into by people who may be in financially vulnerable circumstances, he said.

"So we are pleased that Cash Converters are making the necessary changes to ensure its Next Pay product is compliant with the law."

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