The campaign launch comes on ‘Blue Monday’, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, not least because people are feeling strapped for cash after the extra spending the festive season can often entail.
Alongside Debt Hacker, the council and local charities from Islington’s Debt Coalition and Advice Alliance were on the streets of Finsbury Park this morning, letting residents and commuters know about Debt Hacker’s online platform, as well as signposting people to support available locally for dealing with problem debt.
Debt Hacker allows those who have taken out a high-interest payday loan to find out if they are entitled to compensation, recouping unfair or unaffordable charges and interest. Previous campaigns by profit-making claims management companies brought down the payday giant Wonga. But this collaboration on the ground between not-for-profit Debt Hacker, Islington Council and local voluntary sector organisations is the first of its kind. It comes as part of a wider effort to help people in the borough who are struggling with problem debt and the high cost of living. The council promotes affordable alternatives to payday lenders, such as London Capital Credit Union, as well as providing advice and information on managing money, budgeting and debt.
Today’s drive is Islington’s latest move to stop payday lenders exploiting those in financial straits, amid concerns that they drag customers into ever-deeper spirals of debt. A series of ‘sharkstoppers’ initiatives in the borough in 2015 also targeted these ‘legal loan sharks’.
Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, who is spearheading the collaboration, said: “This joint initiative is an important step, holding payday lenders to account and helping people deal with problem debt. Alongside Debt Hacker, we are supporting residents to reclaim money from firms which ripped them off and giving them information about alternative, responsible lenders.”
“We are sending a clear message to unscrupulous lenders that we will not allow them to exploit those in our community who find themselves out of pocket. The payday loan industry does a lot of harm. We’re helping bring it to book.”
Alan Campbell, founder of Debt Hacker, said: “We are delighted to join forces with Islington Council to help combat the scourge of payday lending. Londoners are more likely than people anywhere else in the UK to take out a payday loan, and when you walk around Islington, it’s not that surprising – payday loan shops are a common sight on the borough’s high streets, driving people into a spiral of unaffordable debt.”
“We want people to know their rights. If they’ve been sold an unaffordable loan – and we know that almost three quarters of loans sold are unaffordable – they’re entitled not only to recoup all their interest and charges, but to have that loan removed from their credit file. We look forward to helping Islington residents get the recompense they deserve.”
To see if you are entitled to compensation after borrowing from payday lenders, fill out this quick and easy online form: https://debthacker.co.uk/get-money-back