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Payday lenders ‘targeting the desperate’

Vulnerable Australians are still being targeted with exorbitant interest rates on loans offered by payday lenders, a leading charity warns.

The Salvation Army says many recommendations made at the beginning of the year by two major inquiries into the banking and financial services industries still haven’t been acted on.

“What we’re seeing is very little change since the royal commission and the Senate inquiry,” financial counsellor Kristen Hartnett said in a statement.

“Even though there were a lot of recommendations, on a day-to-day basis what’s presenting is the same.”

The Senate economics committee inquiry which reported in February recommended payday lenders and rental companies face tougher regulations and better consider the needs of struggling families.

The inquiry said payday loans had been offered at rates of between 112 and 407 per cent.

The banking royal commission, which published its conclusions in the same month, proposed a raft of measures designed to better protect consumers, including banning unsolicited cold calls or “hawking” of insurance products.

But Hartnett says the Salvation Army is still seeing instances where much-needed household items like washing machines are bought for $600 but end up costing $3000 due to high interest rates.

The organisation is urging the federal government to ensure all the reforms proposed by the inquiries are implemented – including increased funding for financial counselling services.

Hartnett said more than 1500 people had come to the Salvation Army’s Moneycare service for financial advice last year and they took more than 30,000 calls.

The Salvation Army’s Moneycare head, Tony Devlin, insists vulnerable and desperate people don’t need a payday loan or a “buy now, pay later” scheme.

“What is needed is financial counselling such as that offered by Moneycare which is holistic in its approach, which focuses on working with the person as a whole and builds long-term financial capability and resilience,” he said.

With AAP

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