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Free legal help for people dealing with payday loans

PEOPLE who are struggling with payday loans can turn to Legal Aid Queensland for help, with the organisation providing free legal information and advice to Queenslanders experiencing financial hardship.

Senior consumer protection lawyer Paul Holmes said an increasing number of financially vulnerable people were using small amount or emergency loans to pay the bills or cover the costs of urgent car or white good repairs, and were struggling to keep up with repayments.

“People often turn to payday lenders when they are in financial need and can’t get a loan from a mainstream lender,” Mr Holmes said.

“We sometimes see people who take out a loan and then get sick or lose their job and can’t make repayments, they then take out another loan to pay the original loan and are caught in a spiral of debt, struggling to pay for basic necessities.

“The ads on TV and radio make small amount loans seem so easy – and it has become easier to get online and access a short term loan – but the repercussions can be devastating for vulnerable families.”

Mr Holmes said many people did not know that if they were having trouble paying back their debts there was help available under the law.

“If people are struggling to pay their loan they can ask their lender to vary the terms of their loans, like temporarily suspending repayments for a set period of time or having the repayment amount temporarily reduced while you get back on your feet,” he said.

“The law also provides protections against unscrupulous lenders who have not met their obligations when assessing whether a person has the capacity to repay the loan.

“I’d encourage people who are experiencing financial hardship because of a short term or payday loan to contact Legal Aid Queensland and find out about their legal rights.”

Legal Aid Queensland also has a range of publications about debt issues on its website www.legalaid.qld.gov.au. The publications can be ordered for free.

People can contact Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88 to access free legal information and advice.

More information: Miranda Greer or Amanda Catania on 3917 0407

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