Family support manager says door-to-door salesman are using gifts to push loans

Money lending firms are offering lavish gifts and prizes to entice people into taking out high-interest loans for Christmas.

Companies with interest rates of up to 43 per cent are being accused of "targeting the vulnerable" in Auckland's lower socio-economic groups.

Finance Now mailouts offer customers the chance to "enjoy a special surprise this Christmas". If they take out a $2,000 loan they go into a draw to win a Suzuki Swift.

Instant Finance offers customers a free mobile phone for spending more than $500 on its hire purchase home furnishings and appliances.


Those who take out a loan could also win a food hamper and a barbecue, and "get the real Christmas deal" with free delivery of a car bought on credit through the company.

Quick Cash Finance is using the slogan "need some Christmas cash? Get your hands on some QuickCash to help you out this holiday season", and NZ Lending and Speedy loans use Google ad slogans, "need some cash for Xmas?" and "need some cash for Xmas fast?," respectively.

Save My Bacon had added a fleet of red-nosed reindeer to its ads promising $500 in customers' bank accounts within two hours of applying for the loan, and New Zealand Credit and Loans is promoting finance for "new toys for the bach this summer".

Mangere Family Support Services chief executive Darryl Evans said door-to-door loan salespeople were targeting state housing complexes in south Auckland.

"I have never seen so many mobile money lenders, we are seeing more cars all the time," he said. "They're out there targeting the vulnerable, they're door knocking Housing New Zealand housing estates and pushing free gifts on people."

He said money lenders had been pushing their services in the district at a time when people were struggling to cover their general household costs.

"It appears this year to be a lot worse ... our families are struggling more this year than they were last year. Some of them are borrowing just to put Christmas (food) on the table."

Mr Evans said demand usually doubled from 30 clients a week to 60 between February and April, and he expected it to be even higher next year.

Instant Finance chief executive Richard de Latour said there was always a seasonal upturn at this time of year.

"It's just the way life works, at Christmas we get very busy," he said. "Unfortunately it's not an ideal world and a lot of families out there do need extra cash over Christmas and it's not necessarily for lavish spending, but these people have needs.

"Just because the people in our client base are at the lower end of the scale doesn't mean they aren't entitled to have a little bit of enjoyment over Christmas."

Mr de Latour said his company did not practice door-to-door sales.

A spokeswoman for NZ Lending and Speedy Loans, who did not want to be named, said the companies targeted Christmas borrowers with Google ads.

"People have to pay for their holidays plus presents and that kind of thing, it's just to ease the burden of that. People get quite desperate."

Spokesmen at Quick Cash Finance and Finance Now did not wish to comment. Representatives at Save My Bacon and NZ Credit and Loans did not respond to Herald inquiries.

Commerce Commission consumer manager Stuart Wallace said a new Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill was before Parliament, with tighter restrictions on lending.

Christmas loans

The offers

• Finance Now: Chance to win a Suzuki Swift for taking out a $2,000
• Instant Finance: A free mobile phone for spending more than $500 on its hire purchase home furnishings and appliances.
• Save My Bacon: Images of red-nosed reindeer illustrate ads promising cash in customers' bank accounts within two hours.
• New Zealand Credit and Loans: Offering finance for "new toys for the bach this summer".

The rates

• Finance Now: $1,000 loan will cost $1432.56 with six monthly repayments (43.6 per cent interest), or $1322.4 with 24 weekly repayments (32.3 per cent interest).
• NZ Credit and Loans: $1,000 loan will cost $1,309.68 with 24 weekly repayments (30.9 per cent interest).
• Save My Bacon: $500 loan will cost $596.64 in two fortnightly payments (19.3 per cent interest).