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Greece taps public sector cash to help cover March needs


Greece taps public sector cash to help cover March needs
Greece is tapping into the cash reserves of pension funds and public sector entities through repo transactions as it scrambles to cover its funding needs this month, debt officials told Reuters on Tuesday.Shut out of debt markets and with aid from lenders frozen, Athens is in danger of running out of cash in the coming weeks as it faces a 1.5 billion euro loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund this month.The government has sought to calm fears and says it will be able to make the IMF payment and others, but not said how.At least part of the states cash needs for the month will be met by repo transactions in which pension funds and other state entities sitting on cash lend the money to the countrys debt agency through a short-term repurchase agreement for up to 15 days, debt agency officials told Reuters.However, one government official said they could not be used to repay the IMF unless Athens was able to repay the state entities the cash it borrowed from them.Debt officials sought to play the repos as advantageous for both sides, arguing that the funds get a better return on their cash than what is available in the interbank market.”It is not something new, its a tactic that started more than a year ago and is a win-win solution. Its a proposal, we are not twisting anyones arm,” one official said.In such repo transactions, a pension fund or government entity parks cash it does not immediately need at an account at the Bank of Greece, which becomes the counterparty in the deal with the debt agency.The money is lent to the debt agency for one to 15 days against collateral – mostly Greek treasury paper held in its portfolio – and is paid back with interest at expiry.The lender can always opt to roll over the repurchase agreement and continue to earn a higher return than what is available in the interbank market.One source familiar with the matter has previously said Athens could raise up to 3 billion euros through such repos, but that it was not clear how much of that had already been used up by the government.”There is a sum that has already been raised this way,” the debt official said without disclosing specific numbers.Athens – which has monthly needs of about 4.5 billion euros including a wage and pension bill of 1.5 billion euros – is running out of options to fund itself despite striking a deal with the euro zone to extend its bailout by four months.Faced with a steep fall in revenues, it is expected to run out of cash by the end of March, possibly sooner, though the government is trying to assure creditors it will not default.”We are confident that the repayments will be made in full, particularly to the IMF, and there will be liquidity to get us through the end of the four-month period,” Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said during a late-night talk show on Greek TV on Monday. “March is sorted.” [Reuters]

Tailor home loan rates

FALLING interest rates are causing a surge of activity as Mount Isa area residents are looking for ways to save more money on their home loan, says Yellow Brick Road Mount Isa branch principal Steve Williams.

The Reserve Bank kept the cash rate on hold in March following a significant rate cut in February, dropping the rate to a historic low of 2.25 per cent.

Mr Williams said his branch was urging Mount Isa residents to look beyond the cuts and pay attention to where their rate fitted in comparison to the rest of the market. ‘‘Getting an interest rate that’s among the most competitive on the market is one of the best ways to make your financial goals and dreams a reality.”

Steve Williams’ top 10 tips to spend less on your loan and more on your dreams

1. Have a plan: You should plan to own your home as fast as possible, and therefore pay as little interest as possible.

2. Pay attention to the rate: Stay up to date with what the market value is on rates. Consider a $450,000 loan over 25 years. If you had a 4.95 per cent mortgage and refinanced at 4.39 per cent – your repayments would decrease by $147 a month, saving you over $55,000 in interest over the life of your loan.

3. Be prepared to refinance: To save on a mortgage, you must be prepared to go to a lender with a lower interest rate than your current one.

4. Understand the loan term: Shorter loan terms usually mean you pay less interest and pay the debt faster. Let’s say you have a $450,000 mortgage at 4.39 per cent, and you opt for a 25-year loan rather than a 30-year: you’d save $68,100 in interest alone.

5. Repayment frequency is key: The higher the frequency of payment, the slower the interest accrues and the faster you pay off the mortgage. If you pay half the monthly repayment amount fortnightly, rather than monthly, or a quarter of the monthly payment weekly, you end up saving the equivalent of an extra month’s payment each year. Consider an average mortgage of around $450,000 and a 30-year term at 4.39 per cent. You’d save around four years and four months off your loan term and more than $60,000 in interest.

6. Put windfalls into your home loan: Tax refunds, Medicare rebates and work bonuses should go into the home loan, cutting interest and speeding repayment.

7.Have the right loan: Ensure your mortgage allows you to put in lump sum amounts. Many fixed rate loans don’t allow this. If you’re offered an offset mortgage that lets you put your income directly into the loan, make sure this suits you.

8.Do it early: Increasing your repayments and putting in lump sums is most effective when you do it early in the term of the loan.

9. Know your fees: The headline repayment figure in your mortgage agreement is not the only number you should look at. Lenders charge different fees, so be cognisant of any incidentals that may not be captured in the comparison rate.

10. Beware of interest only: Don’t select an interest-only loan if you want to repay it quickly. Always opt for principal plus interest. When borrowers ‘‘set and forget’’ their mortgage, they usually pay too much interest and have the debt longer than they should.


A Student Loan Repayment Trick That Can Save You Money

It’s common knowledge you can save money by paying off loans and other debts quickly or ahead of schedule. You can also save money by making monthly payments as planned, if you put in a little extra effort and do the math.

The trick? You can change your repayment period to an extended plan (for example, a 25-year instead of a 10-year repayment period) but continue to pay the amount required to be debt-free within 10 years and request the extra payment go toward the principal balance. The amount you overpay reduces the interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan. Here’s where the extra effort is necessary: You should frequently follow up with your loan servicer and check your statements to make sure the extra payment is applied as you instructed.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this tactic — it’s particularly common among homeowners with mortgages — and wondered if it’s something you could do. A Reddit user recently posted about the strategy, saying, “Am I crazy, or can I actually save money by using the extended payment plan for federal loans?”

Not crazy. It’s a smart plan, you just need to make sure you know what you’re doing.

“That post is completely on target,” said Mitch Weiss, a finance professor at the University of Hartford. He frequently writes about student loan issues for and has written about this strategy as a good way to save money but also give yourself flexibility. “You can always fall back on that lower payment when you need it. Managing your cash flow is in your hands, then.”

In the post, the redditor provided a good example. He pays $636 each month on a 10-year repayment plan, and the required monthly payment would drop to $333 a month for a 25-year repayment plan. By continuing to pay $636 a month, the extra money would go toward the principal balance on the loan with the highest interest rate (he checked with his loan servicer, and that’s its policy — you’ll want to check with your own servicer to confirm if this is its policy as well). In the event he can’t afford the $636 some months, he can fall back on the lower required payment, rather than having to go the servicer and explain the hardship and try and work something out (or make a partial payment and get hit with late fees or skip a payment and get a delinquency on his credit report).

The redditor said he used a loan calculator and found that he’d pay off his debt two months faster and save more than $1,000 in interest that the loan would have accrued under the 10-year plan.

“Am I missing something here, or is this a no-risk way of saving $1,100 and 2 months? I mean it gives emergency flexibility AND saves me money?” he wrote.

As dozens of people replied (and Weiss confirmed), the math is correct, but when it comes to student loans, you need to be careful.

“It’s all about execution, and the way that you ensure execution is that you have your directions in writing and you follow up,” Weiss said. Tell your servicer exactly what you want them to do with that extra payment (put it toward the principal balance, and if there are multiple loans, the principal balance of the loan with the highest rate), and make sure they do it. Otherwise, they may take the extra payment as a future payment and just not charge you again until the prepaid amount runs out.

Another Reddit commenter said it took emailing his or her servicer every 48 hours for almost two months to make sure the servicer applied the payment as instructed. Weiss said he’s heard and read about that complaint a lot.

“It was a very constructive string of comments,” Weiss said. “I think this demonstrates how serious an issue this is for so many people and how so many people are taking this so seriously.”

As you pay down your student loans (no matter your strategy), it can help to keep an eye on your credit reports for any inaccuracies or problems that could drag down your credit score. You can get a free credit report summary, updated every 30 days on, to track your progress as you get out of debt.

More from
How to Consolidate Your Student Loan DebtHow Long Will You Be Paying Your Student Loans?Your Repayment Options for Student LoansFinanceEducationstudent loan […]

Cash Flow From Financing Activities (CFF)

Cash flow from financing activities is typically the third and final section of the statement of cash flows. It shows changes to cash resulting from activities such as issuing stocks and bonds to raise capital, paying dividends and bank loans, refinancing loans, and stock buybacks.

The formula for cash flow from financing activities is:

Cash Received from Issuing Stock or Debt – Cash Paid as Dividends and Re-Acquisition of Debt/Stock

Even though interest payments are related to financing activities, they are not included in the cash flow for financing activities section of the statement of cash flow. Under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, interest payments on debt are part of cash flow from operating activities. Companies that use International Financial Reporting Standards may classify interest payments in either the operating activities or the finance activities section of the statement of cash flows.

Investors can use the equity section of the balance sheet, related financial notes and the cash flow from financing activities section of the statement of cash flows to assess a company’s financial acumen. Prudent use of financial activities to raise cash is one sign of a healthy, well-managed company.

During the previous year, ABC Corp had the following financial transactions:

A Bank loan of $50,000 plus the issuance of Common Stock for $70,000; minus a Bond Retirement of $43,000 and Dividend payment of $12,000.

ABC’s Net Cash Flow from financing Activities would therefore equal $65,000.


Trying to time the market with a mortgage?


Dear Dr. Don,
We currently own a multifamily unit with two 30-year fixed mortgages. One is for $200,000 at 5.25 percent and the other is for $65,000 at 3 percent. Our home is valued at $280,000. We would like to refinance and have cash to pay down the mortgage so that we will have 5 percent equity in the house to refinance. Do you recommend using the cash to pay down the debt to refinance or waiting until the home value rises? We also want to buy another home in the next few years in addition to the one we have.

— Michelle Myriad

Compare refinance rates and lower your monthly payments

Dear Michelle,
Unless you’re having cash flow problems that you’re trying to resolve by refinancing the two mortgages into one loan, the assumption here is that the lender on the $65,000 mortgage won’t sign off on refinancing the $200,000 loan, which forces you to refinance both loans. Otherwise, you’d hold on to that 3 percent rate.

Bringing cash to closing can get you that new mortgage, but you’ll still wind up paying private mortgage insurance on a conventional mortgage with less than 20 percent down. If you live in the home, an FHA loan requires less money down, but you’ll pay mortgage insurance upfront and in your monthly mortgage payment. An FHA loan requires a 3.6 percent down payment, and you’ve got that much equity in the property now without bringing cash to closing.

I’d lean toward refinancing now versus waiting for home values to rise, just because I don’t think you’ll like where mortgage rates go if you wait. It also makes things easier by having the financing in place before shopping for your next property.

Compare the cost of a cash-in closing on a conventional mortgage with the cost of closing an FHA loan. Private mortgage insurance doesn’t last forever with a conventional loan, but the mortgage insurance premium is permanent on an FHA financing. The difference in interest rates between the two loans should be small, but that’s also important in determining which loan is right for you.


3 Ways to Finance an Engagement Ring

The average engagement ring ran $5,598 in 2013, according to the That’s no small chunk of change. While it’s ideal to save enough to pay cash for a ring, there may be times you just can’t — or won’t — wait.

What are the best ways to finance an engagement ring? Here are three, along with the pros and cons of each.

1. Loans From Friends & Family

Grayson Bell was a college student when he decided to propose to his girlfriend (now wife). But with a part-time job as his only source of income, paying cash for a nice ring was out of the question. While discussing the dilemma with his mother, she offered to loan him the money. It turned out to be a smart move. “She had contacts at a prestigious jewelry market in another state,” he recalls. “She was able to get a ring at 60% off the appraised value. It was a great deal and a custom ring specifically designed for my wife.”

Bell and his mother set up a formal arrangement from the beginning, “We created a contract with payment terms, due dates, and when the loan needed to be paid off. I had to pay her back monthly and at least the minimum payment we agreed to. If I missed a payment or it was late, there was interest applied. It was much like a bank loan.”

Bell is a personal finance blogger now, and shares how he dug out of $50,000 in credit debt on his website. But at the time he was just a student who needed to find a way to finance his engagement ring. “All in all, the experience was a good one,” he says. “Looking back now, I realize I should have waited to just save up for the ring, but in my college years, I wasn’t thinking about that or my financial future. I paid off my loan on time and thanked my mother for what she did.”

The advantage of one of these loans is that they can carry an interest rate as low as 0%, and can be very flexible. They don’t appear on credit reports, which can be a plus (or minus — if you need the credit reference to build credit).

The downside? If you can’t make payments there’s likely to be a rift between you and the lender that could strain the relationship with someone you love.

2. In-Store Financing

Most major jewelers offer financing plans, some of which feature 0% interest for a limited period of time. For example, Jared offers interest-free financing for 12 months, or 12 months at 0% followed by low-rate financing for six months. Kay Jewelers offers 12 months interest-free. Blue Nile offers no-interest financing for six and 12 months, or equal payments for 24, 36 or 48 months at 9.9% (the time period depends on the amount financed). Zales offers 0% interest for six, 12 or 18 months, again, depending on the amount charged.

All of these offers require opening a new retail credit card. This new account could affect your credit scores, especially if the line of credit they give you is not significantly more than the amount you charge. That’s because credit scoring models compare your available credit to your balances to get your “debt usage ratio.” If your balances total more than 20% to 25% of your available credit on any individual credit card (or on all of them together), your credit scores may suffer. In other words, if they approve you for a $5,000 line of credit and you spend that much on a ring, your account will be maxed out from the beginning — and that can hurt your scores.

The other big “gotcha” to watch out for is that under some of these plans you may lose the interest-free financing and be charged interest from the date of purchase (often at a high interest rate) if you fail to pay the balance in full by the time the promotional period ends.

3. Personal Loans

A personal loan can be an alternative to opening a new credit card. While you won’t get interest-free financing that way, you may qualify for a loan with a low fixed rate lasting for anywhere from 12 to 48 months. The advantage to this type of financing is that you’ll have a fixed monthly payment, and know exactly how much you need to pay each month until the loan is paid off. In other words, there is no risk that you will see your rate skyrocket if you fail to pay off the balance when the promotional rate expires.

As with all types of engagement ring financing, there are a few things to watch out for, though. Your interest rate will depend in large part on your credit scores; the better your credit, the lower your interest rate. If your credit isn’t strong, you may wind up with a higher rate. (Think of interest as the opposite of a discount on the ring. Instead of paying less, you pay more.) You can check your credit scores for free on to see where you stand.

Here are a couple of examples of how much interest can cost you over the term of the loan:

$5,000 loan at 10% for 3 years

Total cost: $5,808.24Payment: $161.34

$5,000 loan at 12% for 5 years

Total cost: $6,673.20Payment: $111.22

(Curious how your debt stacks up? You can see how much it will cost to pay off your credit card debt using the free credit card calculator at

Borrow Smart

Whichever method you choose to finance an engagement ring, review your credit reports and scores before you apply for the loan. And be sure to read the fine print so you understand the terms of the loan. Paying more than you expected is stressful, and you’ll have enough stress planning — and paying for — your wedding!

More from
Do You Need a Wedding Loan?What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?Credit Card Options for CouplesFinanceCreditengagement ringcredit reports […]

Pay Attention to Payday Loan Terms

Many cash-strapped consumers may find themselves in need of a small loan to pay off their holiday purchases. While payday lenders may seem like an easy way to get cash fast, for many, it ends up being a burden. BBB encourages consumers to pay close attention – many payday lenders charge high interest rates, set unaffordable payment terms and use high-pressure collection tactics – making these debts impossible to pay off.

Payday loans are small loans subject to state regulation. In the US, thirteen (13) states have banned payday lending and several others have restrictions on the interest rate or associated fees. Traditionally, states cap small loan rates and require installment repayment schedules be given to borrowers, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

Texas is one of few states that does not have any statewide regulations on payday loans. Individual cities have enacted their own ordinances to keep interest rates down for consumers.

“Some payday lenders target people whose credit may not be good enough to obtain a credit card or bank loan and who therefore rely on advance short-term loans to get by”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Often, people take these loans in desperate circumstances without realizing these high interest rates come with fees and may trap them in a cycle of debt.”

Before you borrow, your BBB offers the following advice:

Start with trust. Check out a lender’s BBB Business Review to see its rating, history of complaints, ad-related issues and consumer reviews.

Consider another loan source. Consider banks and credit unions who offer short-term loans for small amounts at competitive rates. A cash advance on a credit card also may be possible, but it may have a higher interest rate than other sources of funds. In any case, weigh all your options first and compare all available offers.

Never pay an upfront fee. Some short-term lenders ask for a post-dated check to cover the amount you borrowed, plus interest and fees. However, if any lender asks for those fees in cash before giving you any money, walk away. Charging undisclosed upfront fees is illegal according to the Federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

Limit the amount you borrow. Only borrow what you know you can pay off with your first paycheck. If you allow your balance to roll over for several weeks or months, the company may tack on fees each time which can result in you owing several times more than what you borrowed in the first place.

Read the fine print. Pay close attention to fees and consequences of nonpayment. According to TILA, lenders must disclose the cost of the loan. Payday lenders must give you the finance charge (a dollar amount) and the annual percentage rate in writing before you sign for the loan.

Keep your documentation. Protect yourself by having documentation that all loans were paid in full, as there may be attempts by scammers to collect a debt that is not owed.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-5888, and remember to Look for the Seal.


Paying by cash won't build credit score

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Hello. I just tried to pull my credit report through Credit Karma and it wouldn’t give me a score. It says “thin file.” I always pay for everything outright and do not want to have credit cards. — Monika

Hello Monika,
Despite having made somewhat of a career out of advising people about credit, I have to say I really admire people who are able to pay cash for what they need and successfully avoid the often complicated and tedious world of credit management. There is certainly a lot to be said for simplicity and a whole lot to be said for being debt-free.

Yet in discussions weighing the pros and cons of credit versus cash, I find that many of the staunch credit critics advocating the cash-only lifestyle tend to equate credit use with taking on mountains of debt and paying exorbitant interest. While this happens and credit is not for everybody, the efficient use of credit cards and loans can provide the convenience, safety and money savings that checking accounts, prepaid cards and debit cards can’t — and without incurring any debt, interest or fees.

Here are just a few reasons why you may want to consider adding at least a minimal amount of credit activity — minus the debt — to your financial picture:

Credit cards paid in full each month can earn rewards and cash back on purchases you’re making already, such as groceries, gas and travel. Having a credit card on hand can make an already unpleasant medical emergency, auto or home repair situation much less stressful. Traveling with a credit card allows you to carry less cash and if stolen, provides protections against financial liability that debit and prepaid cards may not. If you plan to finance a home or car, you’ll need a good credit score based on credit experience to qualify for affordable rates. Compared with other payment methods, credit cards offer better recourse against faulty products or services.

In your email, I couldn’t help but detect some exasperation over having no credit score despite being debt-free, which, common sense might imply, should put you in a very low-risk category, with a good credit score to match. It might also feel like you’re being penalized by the credit scoring system for not going into debt and playing the credit card game.

While equating low risk with paying outright may seem like just plain common sense, the numbers disagree. Research into how millions of consumers have managed their credit over many years has shown that while it’s true that deeply-in-debt consumers are more likely to be headed for bigger financial trouble than those with zero debt, consumers with low debt and a proven credit track record tend to be better risks than those with low or no debt due to a lack of recent credit experience. In other words, there is no way to know how well a consumer who hasn’t used credit in the past, or recently, will handle credit in the future.

What exactly constitutes a credit track record? Actually, you might be surprised at how little experience is required for a credit score. All it takes is single card or loan opened at least six months ago and reported to the credit bureau within the past six months to meet the minimum FICO credit scoring criteria.

For those not new to credit, but who have used credit in the distant past, just not recently, it’s also helpful to know that these two minimum scoring criteria — an account that has been 1) opened at least six months ago, and 2) reported within the past six months — can be satisfied by a single account or by multiple accounts. For example, let’s say that instead of having your very first account opened six months ago, your credit report shows one old paid-off loan or closed credit card and a new card you just opened. This minimal amount of credit experience is all it takes for a FICO score to be calculated immediately.

But if your thin file means you don’t have a credit score, how do you get approved for credit when doing so requires a score? Actually, it’s pretty easy. What follows are a couple of the most commonly used ways to build and rebuild a credit history:

A secured credit card issued by a bank or credit union. All you need is some cash to put down as a deposit and pay a nominal annual fee. Secured cards that you can pay in full each month without interest appear on your credit report and contribute to a credit score just like unsecured cards. What makes them ideal for this purpose is that most do not to require any — or good — prior credit history. Authorized user credit card. Whether you actually use this card or not — it’s up to you — by having a spouse or partner add you as an authorized user to a credit card in good standing, the entire history of the account will instantly become part of your credit file, while you bear no responsibility for the balance. As with most secured cards, no prior credit experience is required of an authorized user. If you still don’t want to have credit cards, but wouldn’t mind having a credit score to help you qualify for car or home financing in the future? Many credit unions offer “credit building” personal loans, in which you take out a small loan secured by a cash deposit and make monthly payments over time — though, expect to pay interest and an origination fee. As with a credit card, this loan will appear on your credit report and could, by itself, deliver a score after six months.

Still, in the end, whether you continue to pay as you go and avoid credit cards entirely, or begin to incorporate some credit usage into your financial picture, the name of the game is steering clear of debt. Good luck, Monika!

See related: 4 ways to build credit without a credit card

Paying by cash won’t build credit scoreClosed accounts affect your credit score, but maybe not how you thinkHow many cards is too many?CreditFinancecredit cardscredit scorecredit report […]

Leveraged-Loan Prices Tumble as Investors Pull Cash

U.S. leveraged-loan prices dropped to a more than two-year low as investors extended a record streak of withdrawals from funds that buy the debt.

Loan prices fell to 95 cents on the dollar, the lowest since August 2012, according to the Standard & Poor’s/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 Index.

Investors are shunning speculative-grade debt as oil prices tumble to the lowest since 2009. They pulled $1.05 billion from U.S. mutual and exchange-traded funds that buy leveraged loans in the week ended Dec. 10, an unprecedented 22nd straight week of withdrawals, according to Lipper.

The market’s biggest ETF, the $5.85 billion PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN), had $132 million of outflows yesterday, the most since its inception in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund is overseen by Invesco Ltd.

Issuance has slowed as investors have retreated. Borrowers including Toys “R” Us Inc. and fitness-club operator Equinox Holdings Inc. have sold about $46 billion of the speculative-grade debt to institutional investors since the end of September, what would be the weakest end to a year since 2011, Bloomberg data show. That’s down from about $174 billion the final three months of last year.

Leveraged loans have lost 2.1 percent this month, reducing gains for the year to 0.32 percent. The debt’s on track for its worst annual performance since losing 28.2 percent in 2008.

For Related News and Information: Junk-Bond Well Runs Dry as Oil Rout Stems Supply: Credit Markets Investors Withdraw $1.89 Billion From U.S. High-Yield Bond Funds Fed Bubble Bursts in $550 Billion of Energy Debt: Credit Markets

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Idzelis in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shannon D. Harrington at Caroline Salas Gage

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Payday loan company: 'Help get your mate into debt and we will give you £20'

A payday lender is offering hard-up customers £20 to drag their friends into debt with them.

Speedy Cash is promoting the “bonus” as an incentive for clients to refer new customers to the lender – just as ­struggling families turn to emergency loans in the run-up to Christmas.

In-store posters and leaflets urge customers: “Send some friends. Earn cash rewards”, adding: “For every friend you send to Speedy Cash, we’ll give you £20.”

They show one person next to £20, two with £40, three by £60 with the words: “And so forth. You get the idea.”

Desperate customers are hit with a representative APR of 2115.69% on 30-day loans taken out.

Payday interest


30 day loan

Campaigners slammed the refer-a-friend scheme.

Stephen Sichel of London Citizens said: “It offers ­incentives for people to exploit their relationships and get friends into debt.

“People feeling the pressure at Christmas need support, not to be encouraged into cycles of debt. They’re preying on people’s vulnerability.”

Poll loading …

Labour MP Paul Blomfield, who has campaigned for a crackdown on payday loans, said: “It’s a nasty ploy. We’ve made enormous progress in regulating this rip-off industry but shameful tactics like this show the need for strong monitoring.

“Payday lenders are always looking for new ways to get people into debt.”

Speedy Cash, which has 23 branches in England and Wales, was rapped by regulators over ads last Christmas offering ­children free photos with Santa in store.

The firm did not respond to requests for comment.