Charity warning on moneylenders calling to families in Cork city

Charity warning on moneylenders calling to families in Cork city

A CHARITY is warning parents not to entertain housecalls from moneylenders after working with families struggling to repay loans at exorbitant interest rates.

Society of St Vincent de Paul’s, south-west regional co-ordinator, Gerry Garvey said they worked with a number of Cork families earlier this year who had found themselves saddled with debt after Christmas. Many of those affected, he explained, had received housecalls from moneylenders with tempting offers during the festive season.

“This is the way the majority operate,” he said. “It seems like easy money at the time which some might find very tempting.”

Mr Garvey pointed out that these parents were hugely concerned about Christmas and may have been singled out through local knowledge.

He emphasised that while moneylending is legal, it is still leaving a number of families in a vulnerable position. Mr Garvey said that people are even more at risk this year in light of poverty caused by the pandemic.

“This is a bottomless pit that is hard to get out of,” he said. 

“It’s the act of the person calling to the door that is most difficult.”

Gerry Garvey, regional co-ordinator, St. Vincent de Paul.
Gerry Garvey, regional co-ordinator, St. Vincent de Paul.

“With a letter from the bank there is still some distance but having somebody physically at the door can be intimidating. From anecdotal experience, we can see that it’s coming up to Christmas when the calls start. However, there is a chance that they may start even earlier this year due to fears around stock shortages and people buying earlier. This is why we are trying to advocate as early as possible.”

He said it’s only after Christmas that the charity normally sees the true extent of pain suffered by families. “We are not a police state. This is a system that has been going on for hundreds of years. What we would like to see is the exorbitant interest rates reduced. Some of the interest rates that families deal with are frightening. As a charity, we never deal directly with the moneylenders ourselves but we do see the effects. Normally, it’s after Christmas that we see the real damage.

“People come to us in the depths of despair because this is such a difficult time of year when necessities like fuel costs are high.”

Mr Garvey is encouraging people experiencing poverty to reach out to the charity without fear of judgement. He is also appealing for donations ahead of Christmas following the cancellation of a number of events.

“Covid has really affected donations. We have lost all our church gate collections which had a huge effect on donations.”

To find out more about how to donate to the charity visit www.svp.ie.

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