Consumer champion Citizens Advice has come out fighting against unscrupulous payday lenders.
The charity claims that millions of payday loan customers may be entitled to their money back or compensation from their lenders following years of harassment and pressure selling from the payday loan industry.
Now the FCA have brought in tighter regulations for lenders. You can now only roll over a payday loan twice and payday firms can only try to remove the money from your account twice. Our guide, Payday Loans: The New Rules for Lenders, tells you more.
We look at how and when you should complain about your payday loan provider.
Can you complain about payday loan companies?
Yes and you shouldn't feel shy in coming forward if you feel you've been mistreated by your lender.
It can be easy to blame yourself or feel embarrassed about problems relating to payday loans but these lenders have a responsibility to treat their customers fairly, payday companies are no exception.
Most payday lenders have now recognised this and on 26th November, 2012 signed up to a Good Practice Customer Charter outlining how customers should be treated.
If you've been badly treated or the actions of your payday loan lender breach the charter you have grounds to complain.
Some of the most common causes for complaints include:
1. Taking money without notice
Payday lenders are notorious for taking repayments without notice directly from credit or debit cards.
This is because most payday lenders use what's called a Continuous Payment Authority to collect their loan repayments.
If you've had money taken from your account without being notified at least 3 days in advance you should complain.
If you have a CPA that you are struggling to keep up with, tell your lender not to take the money. Then you should inform your bank of this, and they should prevent any further payments going out.
If the bank then lets the payment go through, you are entitled to an immediate refund (or slightly later if it is a credit card payment).
You must speak to your bank by the end of the working day before the payment is due. If the payment is due today, unfortunately you will not be able to stop the payment in time.
2. Harassment by phone & text messages
Persistent harassment, by phone and text messages is unfortunately more common in the payday loan industry than other financial services.
Practices including calling late at night, contacting you at work or bombarding you with large numbers of text messages are all frowned upon.
If you've been pestered, aggressively pursued or feel intimidated by the practices of your payday lender then you should seriously consider making a complaint.
3. Chasing you for a loan you didn't take out
Unfortunately payday loans can be vulnerable to fraudulent applications, especially when lenders don't carry out sufficient checks on who is borrowing money.
This can sometimes lead to payday lenders chasing people for loans when they have never applied.
Needless to say being contacted by a payday lender about a loan that isn't yours is unacceptable.
Explain to the lender clearly that you haven't taken out a loan; if this doesn't work you can make a formal complaint and should consider reporting the incident to Action Fraud.
Other causes for complaint
The above are just some of the most common causes for complaint and are by no means an exhaustive list.
Payday lenders have a responsibility to clearly illustrate how much their loans will cost, check that you can afford to repay the loan and make sure that you're aware that they are not a long term solution before you apply.
If they fail in any of these areas you should consider making a complaint.
What if you've had problems repaying the loan?
Your right to complain about your treatment at the hands of payday lenders doesn't stop if you've fallen on hard times and are struggling to repay your loan.
Payday lenders must always treat you with respect and sympathy and try and help you repay your borrowing by referring you to free and independent debt charities.
This should also extend to freezing interest on your borrowing an blocking further charges that could cause you greater financial difficulty.
If you've notified your payday lender that you are struggling to repay your loan and they have not treated you in this way you should consider complaining.
Complain to the loan provider
Regardless of the cause of your complain the first step is to complain to the payday loan provider directly.
This is to give the payday lender a chance to investigate your complaint and resolve the matter internally.
If the payday loan lender was playing by the rules you should have been given details about their complaints procedure when you took out your loan.
If you don't have details of their complaints procedure your best bet is to put your complaint in writing, outlining what you expect to happen.
Get proof of postage and if they don't respond satisfactorily within 8 weeks then you should take your complaint further.
For more help and advice on making a complaint to your payday lender, visit the Resolver website.
Take your case to the Ombudsmen
If you've tried to complain directly to your payday lender without success you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsmen service.
They have the power to act as an independent arbitrator and if appropriate force your payday lender to reimburse charges or interest fees and if applicable pay compensation if they determine that your lender is in the wrong.
Turn your back on payday loans
One of the best ways to fight back against payday lenders is to turn your back on them for good.
After all denying them your custom and the interest they earn from your loans you'll be hitting them where it hurts - in their wallets.
You might be pleasantly surprised at the number of alternatives to payday loans, read our guides What is the best way to borrow money until payday? and The Best Ways to Borrow When You Need Money Fast for more help.