More than 147,000 borrowers are due a share of over £15.4 million after Dollar Financial UK (Dollar), trading as The Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express and Ladder Loans, lent many people more than they could afford to repay.
Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which first opened a review into the lender in July 2014, says the firm didn't always properly assess whether customers could afford loans, while a system error also saw some who defaulted on their loans double-charged a fee for doing so.
Refunds will be given to customers in relation to loans taken out between 1 April 2014 and 30 April 2015 in respect of affordability issues, and 1 January 2013 and 30 April 2015 in relation to the system error. However, the FCA says it's not a blanket approach whereby everyone who took out a loan between these periods is affected.
This review was sparked after the FCA found over 6,000 The Money Shop borrowers were lent more than they could afford between January 2013 and April 2014. At the time, it said these customers would be refunded a combined total of more than £700,000. For more on this, see the Payday lender lent thousands too much money MSE News story.
We explain what's happening below. Also, see our Payday Loans guide for alternatives if you're struggling.
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I think I'm affected. What should I do?
Dollar says affected customers, including those who've since left the firm, will be contacted by post in the coming weeks. It says you don't need to do anything, even if you've moved address since taking out a loan with the firm.
You also do not need to pay a claims management firm to get your money back.
How much redress am I due?
The FCA says the exact amount of redress due will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, here's what you'll be refunded for:
- Lent more than you could afford. Dollar says customers will be refunded the interest on the unaffordable portion of their loans going back to when they were first taken out. If customers are still repaying their loans, the unaffordable portion will also be interest free going forward.
- Double charged a default fee. Dollar says customers will be refunded both default fees charged, as well as any interest charged on the fees. It adds that it no longer charges such fees.
How will redress be paid?
Redress will be paid either as a reduction or wiping of your outstanding loan, or in cash if you've since paid off your loan. If you're due more redress than your outstanding loan, you'll have the loan wiped and receive the rest of the redress in cash. The FCA says:
- 65,000 customers will receive a cash refund.
- 67,000 customers will have their current loan balance reduced.
- 15,000 customers will receive both a cash refund and a reduction in their loan balance.
Dollar says it aims to have paid all refunds by early 2016.
I have an outstanding loan. Do I need to continue paying it?
Yes. Unless you hear otherwise from your lender, you need to continue repaying any outstanding balance on your account.
Have other payday lenders been made to pay redress?
Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, says: "We knew when Wonga had its wrists slapped twice last year after its horrendous practices that it was just the tip of the iceberg. Cash Genie was the next big one, now it's Dollar, and we very much doubt it will be the last.
"The payday lending industry has been a parasite on this country, it lived in a void of regulation for far too long. Thankfully, we have started to see much greater scrutiny of the ways these dangerous businesses in this dangerous industry operate. And now their horrible practices are starting to catch up with them.
"No one out there should think that because we have regulation, payday loans are now safer. Most people simply should never use them, they are not a rescue operation. This is an industry that was created by marketing rather than to meet a demand.
"It's worth asking yourself, if you are borrowing money to pay back in a month, what is going to be different in your circumstances that means you will be able to afford to pay it back then when you don’t have the cash now? For many people the answer is nothing, in which case it's not a rescue for someone who is financially drowning, it's splashing water over their head."
Is Dollar still selling loans?
Yes. Dollar is still selling new loans through the four brands involved in the review, although the FCA says since 1 May 2015, the lender has made a number of changes in order to meet the regulator's rules.
What does Dollar say?
Dollar's chief executive Stuart Howard says: "As the new CEO of Dollar Financial UK, I accept the findings of the review and apologise to anyone who may have suffered difficulties as a result.
"It is proper that we put things right where they have gone wrong and I have gone further than the review in reforming the way our business operates to reflect the company aim of being the most responsible lender in its market place."