Payday loans still popular among Latvians

Payday loans - short-term loans with high interest rates - are still very popular among Latvians. A survey by the Consumers Rights Protection Center (PTAC) reveals that 10% of Latvians have used these short-term loans more than once in the last three years.

The head of the PTAC Baiba Vītoliņa said that 9% more admitted that they have used payday loans just once. 

Among those who have used payday loans 29% admitted to not having read the agreement.

16% said that they didn't know the interest rate prior to borrowing, while 2% couldn't say whether they had known it or not. A further 20% weren't informed about the fines they can face if they don't return their loans.

Only 65% didn't have any problems returning the money they had borrowed.

Almost a half of those who had problems (49%) extended the repayment date for a fee, 35% struck a deal with the lender, 17% cut their expenses and paid back the lender, while 12% borrowed from friends or relatives to cover the costs. A further 6% said they sought 'other solutions'.

The survey was conducted in face-to-face interviews in September-October 2015. A total of 1040 people were surveyed.

According to PTAC, the payday loan industry has handed out 20% more in loans - €223m in total - than a year ago, reported Latvian Radio Thursday.

Some regulations for payday loans - like stricter advertising requirements and stricter criteria for evaluating the clients' solvency - are already in place, and more are coming.

Starting next year, lenders will have to cooperate with the State Revenue Service more, reporting any monthly interest payments above €360.

Furthermore, a 100% cap will be introduced on the credit costs, meaning that, for example, for a €100 loan the total money returned will not be able to go over €200 in total.

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