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Govt announces extra protection against loan sharks

The government has announced extra measures to protect people against loan sharks.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi. Photo: RNZ / DOM THOMAS

An interest rate cap will reduce how much it costs to borrow money.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced that an interest rate cap of 0.8 percent day will be included in the bill going through Parliament at the moment.

In April, the legislation was introduced to Parliament to protect people against loan sharks, but during the select committee stage, the bill was criticised for not going far enough.

The bill already includes a cap on the total cost of borrowing, which means people taking out high-cost loans will never have to pay back more than twice the amount they originally borrowed, including interest and fees.

In addition, all truck shops and other mobile traders will be required to check that credit is affordable and suitable for each customer before providing anyone with goods that aren't paid for upfront and to provide information to help borrowers make informed decisions about whether to sign up for credit.

The legislation is expected to pass this year and will come into effect in stages, starting in March.

Mr Faafoi said: "At the moment, high-cost credit is too easy for people in hardship to access. While this type of credit can be an immediate solution to financial problems, we know that high-cost, easy credit leads to worse problems in the long run...

"I know that some lenders are already referring customers who are struggling with repayments to financial mentoring services and this is good to see because it ensures that those struggling with debt can access the advice they need to get back on their feet. I encourage other lenders to follow this example. We are changing the law so that this can become a requirement in future, if needed."

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