Consumers today are constantly being bombarded by advertising messages, both online and off. That is to be expected, but what’s unfortunate is that some of the most vulnerable people are subjected to some of the most aggressive and manipulative sales tactics. Sales professionals are well-trained in methods to overcome a prospect’s sales resistance, which means that vulnerable consumers – especially those who are in debt or are facing other financial challenges – need to be especially wary.
Beware unsolicited phone calls for risky financial products
In the aftermath of any crisis, one thing can be counted upon to occur: the emergence of human predators, seeking to profit from others’ misfortune. Unfortunately, a global financial crisis that left millions of people reeling from their loss of jobs, savings, sense of security, and even their very homes has brought the predators out on an equally global scale. Among these we have seen a proliferation of businesses, some consisting of little more than phone banks and effective sales pitches for products and services that too frequently worsen the conditions of those who were hurt most in the recession. Such people find themselves desperately grasping at even the slimmest of hopes, and are ripe for the empty promises held forth by predators, who are more than willing to convince the prospective customer that what they are selling could be the customer’s last chance, when in truth, numerous less-expensive options are generally available.
The Step Change Charity claims that one in eight Brits are targeted on a daily basis by such companies that offer the most expensive payday loans and “debt management” services, and many if not most of the rest of us receive the same kind of telephone solicitations at some point. In response to complaints from people who have been further harmed by such schemes, the charity is lobbying the Financial Conduct Authority and the Treasury to issue a ban on unsolicited telephone solicitations attempting to sell high-risk financial products that can leave customers in an even deeper debt hole. Ultimately however, it is impossible to completely eliminate such predatory practices, and the onus falls to consumers to educate themselves and avoid falling into such traps.
Don’t be a passive consumer
None of the above is in any way intended to denigrate payday loans. They can be a viable short-term solution if you have poor credit and an urgent need for a relatively small amount of cash. But you shouldn’t passively accept the offers from companies making unsolicited phone calls or sending unsolicited emails or ads. Instead you need to take matters into your own hands and become an active, informed consumer.
If like many people you find yourself in need of a short-term infusion of cash, and a payday loan seems to be your best option, you should not assume that all payday loans are equal. Many of those being marketed via unsolicited telephone solicitations charge the maximum interest and fees allowed by law, and some even exceed the legally-prescribed caps. Even amoung legitimate payday lenders, there can be a fairly significant variation in their costs and terms, but all will be within the range deemed acceptable by the government. Legitimate lenders also tend to be much more transparent and forthcoming about their costs and terms, making it easier for prospective borrowers to compare the different lenders to determine which offers the best deal overall. As noted previously, however, it is up to the customer to put forth the effort to compare what is available.
Do you need a debt management plan?
As we repeatedly preach on this site, a payday loan is only a short-term fix and isn’t likely to get you out of a deep well of debt. If debt is a problem for you, consider a debt management plan, or DMP. Contrary to the often costly plans offered by the telephone solicitors, organisations such as the Step Change Charity exist not to make a profit off people’s troubles, but to help people avoid getting into a credit hole and to help them avoid getting into the hole in the first place. If your debts are causing you concern or you feel that you might benefit from adopting better debt practices, it is quite possible that you can begin to resolve any existing problems and avert any future problems by availing yourself of the advice and information the charity provides.
It is encouraging to know that the government is trying to help vulnerable consumers, but as noted above, it’s unwise for you to rely completely on government regulations to protect you from those who don’t have your best interests in mind. Being truly informed is the key to developing or strengthening your own sales resistance. This will help you avoid debt problems (and the need for a DMP) and will ultimately render you a much less vulnerable – and far less stressed – consumer.