Category Archives: News

Payday Loan Giant Wonga Suffers Major Customer Data Breach

Payday Loan Giant Wonga Suffers Major Customer Data Breach

Payday loan giant Wonga HACKED!

On 8th April 2017, Wonga sent its clients correspondence stating that it had fallen victim to hackers who stole confidential information belonging to its customers. The hackers made away with the names, addresses, bank account numbers, phone numbers and sort code numbers of over a quarter million Wonga customers. The hackers are also believed to have accessed the last 4-digits of bank cards belonging to 270,000 Wonga customers.

According to the correspondence released by Wonga, the lender doesn’t think Wonga account passwords were compromised but advised clients to change their passwords. Customers have also been advised to be on the lookout for suspicious activity on all bank accounts as well as online portals. Wonga has also contacted all financial institutions believed to have been affected directly or indirectly by the hacking.

Wonga began contacting customers after discovering the severity of the breach on 7th April 2017. The breach is believed to have taken place late March 2017. The firm has already established a help line (0800 3166 745) to assist borrowers who may want to contact the lender for more information or guidance.

Wonga is currently in the process of investigating the hacking which it terms as illegal and unauthorised access to personal information of some of its clients. The hacking is believed to have affected Wonga customers in the UK and Poland. Approximately 245,000 UK customers and 25,000 Poland customers have been affected.

The lender has already apologised for any inconvenience caused and is in the process of informing all affected customers. Wonga is also working closely with the police to bring the culprits behind the attack to book.

Although Wonga is already in a mess trying to contain the effects of the data breach, the lender is expected to face the office of the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). If the ICO finds Wonga’s data security measures inadequate, the Lender could face a hefty fine.
Wonga could suffer the same fate as UK telecom provider TalkTalk which paid £400,000 for being unable to prevent a systems breach which compromised personal information of approximately 157,000 customers back in October 2015. Given Wonga’s breach affects almost twice the number of people and it spans across borders, Wonga may face a stiffer penalty if found guilty by the ICO.

This is on top of the fact that Wonga is set to spend millions of pounds securing its systems among other costs incurred responding to the incident. Wonga’s revenues are also expected to drop as some customers choose other lenders with better data security measures.

Considering the lender doesn’t appear to be sure about how the breach occurred, some customers are expected to jump ship reducing the projected earnings significantly. This attack doesn’t help considering Wonga has been in the news again for the wrong reasons.
Back in 2012-2013, Wonga was the subject of a massive identity crime case involving A Nurse, Sherene Bascoe that saw customers scammed £3 million. Wonga’s faulty site algorithms allowed scammers to submit 19,000+ payday loan applications using a single password, ”Bengali90”. The identity theft gang responsible requested for payday loans using stolen identities leaving innocent Wonga customers with payday loans they hadn’t signed up for.

The £3 million scam was successful because of Wonga’s faulty site algorithms. Although the masterminds of the scam paid the price, Wonga is yet to learn how to safeguard its client’s personal information. Considering there is an investigation underway and Wonga has had a troubling data security history, 2017 doesn’t look good for UK’s biggest payday loan lender.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Is Debt Starting To Affect Our Mental Health? What Should You Do?

Is Debt Starting To Affect Our Mental Health? What Should You Do?

According to a recent UK survey carried out by market research company ComRes and insolvency & restructuring trade body, R3, 22% of all adults stated that their finances are affecting their mental health. The survey targeted over 2,000 British adults living East of England.

According to R3, the survey revealed other key causes of mental health issues revolving around personal health or family member health issues. Job, relationship and current global issues also account for some of the main causes of mental health problems in the UK.

The survey reveals that over 37% of all adults living in the Easter region don’t have enough money to wait for the next payday. They attribute their financial struggles to the rising cost of food (52%) and transport (45%).

According to Frank Brumby, R3 Eastern Chairman, financial struggles are universal regardless of the occupation, age or location of an individual. He goes ahead to state that financial worries have an enormous negative effect on a person’s well-being even if the concerns are about the financial situation of other people such as friends and family members.

According to R3 research findings as well as the experiences of R3 members’ clients, a lot must be done to educate people on the options available to them when they find themselves in debt problems. Brumby attests to the fact that improving financial education is among the best ways of reducing stress and mental health problems caused by debt.

R3 Eastern indicates that the personal finance landscape in the eastern region is relatively benign with real wages/income growing while interest rates remain low. Personal finance concerns have however remained sizeable. Bureaucratic obstacles are also stopping many people from taking advantage of the best suitable insolvency procedures.

Brumby continues to state that personal finance pressures will definitely increase in the region considering inflation is bound to rise throughout this year. There are many obstacles which can be solved by easing access to insolvency procedures. According to Brumby, the £680 fee payable by all individuals entering bankruptcy should be paid over time instead of one time to ease stress and boost mental recovery.

Below is a 9-point action plan by R3 Eastern to help anyone with financial/debt issues.

1. Acknowledge your debt problem: Refusing to admit that you have personal finance problem only makes the problems worse.

2. Ask for help: After admitting you have a debt problem, the next step is seeking professional advice. You can get professional financial advice easily for free. You can call the National Debtline, your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a licensed insolvency practitioner.

3. Prioritise debt repayment: Seeking professional advice will help you identify the source of your debt problems as well as effective ways of dealing with them. One of the best ways of dealing with debt problems is prioritising debt repayment. You must adjust your lifestyle to find money for repaying your debts. If you have problems doing this, you can ask for help from an advisor.

4. Be 100% honest with yourself: To solve personal debt problems, you must be honest about the kind of lifestyle you can afford while repaying your debts. Start by calculating how much money you owe. Proceed by adding your most important expenses. Your income should be able to cater for debt repayment as well as those expenses you can’t afford to live without. To accomplish this, you will need to take some drastic measures such as; looking for discounts more aggressively, moving to a cheaper home, etc.

5. Budget: Budgeting helps to identify essential financial commitments as well as trace where your money goes. When you are in debt, you don’t have the luxury of not following where every single cent you spend goes. Budgeting will help you get a true picture of your current financial situation. A budget will also help you stay on track as you try to get out of debt.

6. Maintain open communication with your creditors: Debt problems result in a lot of unnecessary stress due to lack of open communication at an early stage. If you let your creditor know that you have problems repaying as soon as possible, the creditor can extend help which might not be available if you waited. For instance, your creditor can revise payment terms giving you more time and flexibility.

7. Take your time: Although time may not be on your side when dealing with debt problems, avoid being pressurised to make decisions if you haven’t thought them through carefully. Most importantly, the decisions should be supported by expert advice.

8. Stop taking up new debt: You also need to stop applying for new credit cards, payday loans among other types of short-term debt before you get your situation under control.

9. Understand your options: Lastly, you need to know and understand all options available to you. If you need formal insolvency, there are several options appropriate for different debt levels. DROs (Debt Relief Orders) are great for small debt. Other options include; (IVAs) Individual Voluntary Agreements and bankruptcy. It costs more money and time to choose the wrong option so, make sure you understand all options first.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Donald Trump Wants To Scrap The Consumer Protection Agency, What Does This Mean For Borrowers In The US?

Donald Trump Wants To Scrap The Consumer Protection Agency, What Does This Mean For Borrowers In The US?

US President Donald Trump is facing immense pressure to get rid of America’s consumer protection agency CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). This is according to the man set to head the agency. If this happens, rogue debt collectors, loan sharks, and payday lenders will have unmatched freedom to rip off American borrowers.

According to Randy Neugebauer who is slated to replace the current CFPB Director, President Trump is facing immense pressure from the Republican Party to break up the agency completely. The former Texas congressman held talks with the then President-Elect Trump shortly after his election victory in November.

While speaking to The Independent exclusively in his 1st interview since the new Trump administration took office, Mr. Neugebauer stated that his meetings with President Trump have involved discussions revolving around deregulating as well as gutting the CFPB.
Mr. Neugebauer went ahead to state that some of his colleagues are in favour of doing away with the agency completely. He is however of the opinion that it’s better to change certain aspects of the agency as opposed to doing away with the agency completely. Mr. Neugebauer feels that the government shouldn’t be telling the public what types of financial products are the best but rather, creating a safe environment where the public is safe from unfair lending practices.

This is where the CFPB comes in. The agency has the power to take any necessary action against companies which break the law. The agency also takes on cases revolving around race or age discrimination.

Under Mr. Neugebauer’s watch, the agency’s current form is likely to be dismantled which may result in the agency losing much of its influence. Mr. Neugebauer claims that American consumers are currently being suffocated by regulations. He prefers a consumer environment where consumers have the freedom to choose the loans they want whether the deals available are good or bad.

Mr. Neugebauer has stated that he is willing run the agency if appointed. However, it will depend on what the long-term plan of the agency will be. Although Mr. Neugebauer admits to having had broad discussions with President Trump, he goes ahead to state that he hasn’t discussed any specific job offer with the president.

Mr. Neugebauer has been on the record voicing his support for payday loan lenders, despite the apparent lack of transparency as well as crippling interest rate charges that have contributed to calls for payday lenders to be banned.

He also backs President Trump’s executive order aimed at reviewing the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Mr. Neugebauer states that the Obama administration rules meant to get rid of risky lending practices were an overreaction. Mr. Neugebauer views the current regulation as blanket regulation meant for the whole financial market yet some entities weren’t part of the cause of the financial crisis that warranted the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations. In his opinion and those of many others, the regulation went too far.
Under the current CPFB director Richard Cordray, customers who have been victims of credit scams or unfair banking sector practices have received billions in compensation. However, Mr. Neugebauer claims that the problem was overstated and individual states were doing a better job when compared to the CPFB.

He admits to the fact that there are people who will always try to abuse the system, however, action can and has been taken against such people.
Furthermore, the CFPB is already under threat given the federal appeals court ruling in October that the agency has an unconstitutional structure. The ruling also gave President Trump the power to dismiss the current director at will and appoint his replacement anytime even before his term ends in 2018.

The agency which came into being after the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform law was enacted is among former President Obama’s main domestic policy achievements. The achievement is, however, unpopular with libertarians who think it has resulted in unplanned long-term commitments that shifts from the initial objective. Most libertarians feel the agency should either be reformed or disbanded.

A bill has already been introduced by Representative John Ratcliffe and Senator Ted Cruz to disband the agency. If the bill is passed prompting the disbandment of the CFPB, the move will be hugely controversial. Many banking sector players have warned against such a move claiming it will do more harm than good.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Pension Scheme Could Earn Britons Hundreds of Pounds Monthly if Used Before April 5

Pension Scheme Could Earn Britons Hundreds of Pounds Monthly if Used Before April 5

Britons who have reached retirement age are being urged to increase their state pension income by taking advantage of a government offer that is due to be withdrawn on April 5th.

The scheme allows all Britons who missed out on the recent state pension introduced in 2016 to trade in a lump sum in exchange for a generous (index-linked) income for life. Any person who attained state pension age before 6th April 2016 has approximately two weeks to take advantage of the scheme which requires Class 3A national insurance as a pre qualification requirement.

According to Steve Webb, Former pension minister & Royal London policy director, retirement products working in a similar manner pay out two to three times higher than what annuities pay. Besides offering extra income, the scheme also offers a 50% payout to survivors when a pensioner dies.

In essence, a 65-year-old pensioner can trade in £8900 for £520 annually which would increase according to CPI inflation figures every year. The same pensioner would get just £195 annually or £347 after inflation adjustments if he/she bought an index-linked annuity.
The total cost of purchasing additional state pension under the top-up scheme depends on an individual’s age as well as the top-up amount. However, there is a maximum amount set at £25/week or £1,300/year. According to Mr. Webb, the scheme is attractive to individuals with a small pension/saving pot. The scheme is also attractive for women as well as individuals in good health since they are bound to live longer.

The scheme offers better value when compared with the annuity rates available today in the market. It’s a great way to boost a person’s recurrent income according to Mr. Webb. As a result, anyone who is eligible should consider taking advantage of the scheme before the April 5th deadline.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Citizens Advice Calls For a Cost Cap on Doorstep Loans

Citizens Advice Calls For a Cost Cap on Doorstep Loans

Consumer charity, Citizens Advice, has called for a cost cap to be set on doorstep loans stating that the loans are responsible for increasing levels of unmanageable debt in the UK.

According to a Citizens Advice report on doorstep lending, the charity claims to have evidence indicating that doorstep lenders use high-pressure sales tactics coupled with poor affordability checks and aggressive debt collection practices. The charity states that it has helped approximately 23,600 borrowers with unmanageable doorstep loans in 2016. Citizens Advice estimates that more than 1.3 million UK citizens use doorstep loans.

The charity has called out UK’s financial services watchdog; the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to introduce a cost cap on the interest and fees charged on doorstep loans in the same way the watchdog put a cost cap on payday loans.
According to Citizens Advice, the new limit should ensure borrowers don’t pay more than (double) the amount borrowed in total charges. Currently, doorstep loans aren’t included in the FCA’s definition of high-cost credit which means they aren’t covered by the payday loan cost cap introduced recently.

Citizen Advice argues that an extension of the cost cap to cover doorstep loans will safeguard borrowers in financial distress even though there is no doorstep loans lender charging more than double the amount borrowed.

The charity has also gone ahead to state it would prefer to see the end of traditional doorstep loans marketed door-to-door as well as the current Financial Conduct Authority guidelines on responsible lending transformed into rules. The Charity also wishes for more stringent supervision on collection practices.

The three largest doorstep loan providers in the UK include; Morses Club PLC, Non-Standard Finance PLC, and Provident Financial PLC.

In response to Citizens Advice, Morses Club PLC C.E.O. Paul Smith stated that Morses Club customers value the lender’s service as is evident from the independent customer satisfaction surveys the company conducts. The survey scores over the past two years indicate that over 95% of Morses Club customers are happy. According to Smith, Morses Club prides itself in treating customers fairly in business processes as well as how the company’s agents/teams conduct themselves.

Morses Club also goes ahead and assesses the affordability of all its loans using high-tech technology ensuring that loans are issued only to those customers that are able to pay back. According to Smith, Morses Club has invested in costly software to ensure doorstep loan lending practices are above board. Smith also went ahead and stated that the affordability of Morses Club doorstep loans has decreased over the years dispelling the need for a cost cap as suggested by Citizens Advice.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Payday Loan Fraudster Used Tinder to Lure and Fleece Women of Thousands

Payday Loan Fraudster Used Tinder to Lure and Fleece Women of Thousands

30-year-old fraudster Jonathan Frame used Tinder, a popular dating application, to lure and fleece lonely women. The Swinton conman would meet lonely women, steal their identity and then run up debt in their names. He would use the stolen personal information to take out payday loans as well as apply for credit cards and overdrafts according to a Manchester Crown Court hearing.

Frame would go as far as rifle through the mail of his unsuspecting victims,  set up fake email accounts and even call up lenders on behalf of his victims to get credit cards activated. In such instances, he would lie that his girlfriend at the time was deaf.
Frame spent part of his proceeds on designer clothes and restaurant meals with his unsuspecting victims. He was also ”kind” enough to buy his victims expensive gifts with part of the money.

During his 1st February 2017 Crown Court sentencing, Frame pleaded for a suspended jail
sentence claiming he had an honest job at a high-end street store. His plea, however, fell on deaf ears as presiding Judge Michael Leeming ruled that community punishment wasn’t an option since fraud was what Frame did for a living.

Frame has been jailed for one and a half years. He admitted to fraudulent offences amounting to £6,990 against two women he met in 2014 on Tinder. During his sentencing, one of the women he fleeced told the Crown Court she had contemplated suicide because of Frame’s actions. The other woman confessed to being scared of dating in the future.
Frame fleeced his first victim £6,221 in a record seven weeks. The woman is liable for the debts accumulated under her name despite being unaware of what was going on. This is because she shared personal details with Frame. The woman fell for Frame’s charm as well as his persuasive nature. She confessed to thinking Frame loved her genuinely, so she trusted him and gave him access to her house and car. Frame used this access to intercept her post and facilitate the fraud.

According to the woman, Frame has ruined her life. She also feels betrayed and doesn’t expect to live debt-free until she turns 31 in 2022. She also expects to struggle securing
a mortgage given the debts she has accumulated. She was just 23 years old when she met Frame. Frame targeted his second victim shortly after fleecing his first victim. His second victim discovered Frame was a fraudster when he left one day for good. She was fleeced of £569 in 13 days.

This is not the first time Frame is finding himself on the wrong side of the law. Frame has been convicted for 21 offences previously mainly for fraud, theft, and far-dodging. The offences date back ten years. In his latest case, Frame’s barrister Paul Hodgkinson defended his client claiming he was genuinely interested in the relationships with his victims despite the impression that he was out to con lonely women. Hodgkinson went ahead and stated that Frame was apologetic for his actions and was only keen on impressing his partners. Judge Michael Leeming wasn’t convinced of Frame’s innocence resulting in an 18-month jail term for the payday loan fraudster.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
Cash Converters Reverses Losses with Payday Loans

Cash Converters Reverses Losses with Payday Loans

Australia’s leading retail Pawn Broking Company, Cash Converters has returned to profitability thanks to
payday loans after suffering multimillion-dollar losses in 2015. The fortunes of the company have been
turned around by the current online payday lending boom in Australia.
Cash Converters is popular for its bright-yellow pawnshops. The company shifted its business strategy
from traditional pawnbroking to profit from the millions of Australians looking for fast loans online. Cash
Converters plans to retreat from Britain and expand its network in Australia’s fast-growing online lending industry.

The company decided to change strategy after its share price plummeted 50% in 2015 following legal
amendments made in the UK payday loans sector.
According to Cash Converters MD Peter Cumins, the company will focus on Australia’s payday loan
industry where it is already a dominant market player. Cumins is convinced that Cash Converters has the
greatest chance of enjoying sustainable profitability in Australia. He plans on making payday loans an
integral part of the Australian financial sector by delivering high-quality financial products and services
while observing the highest standards of compliance.

According to Cumins, Australian government statistics show that Australia’s short-term lending market is
growing and the range of Australians accessing short-term loans is also broadening driving demand for online loans sophisticated lending products.

In the six months ending December 2016, the total value of Cash Converters’ payday loans increased by
62% to $8.2 million. The company’s online personal loans book grew by 42% to $44.6 million. Cash
Converters isn’t the only payday lender doing well. Money3 is also set to announce impressive results
and enjoy tremendous growth in 2017. The company has already bought online lender, Cash Train
which has already boosted the company’s online loans book by $7 million.

Besides selling its British stores, Cash Converters is also planning to sell its personal loan book worth
$16.9 million (£8.7 million) to boost investment in Australia. According to Cumins, the British network
has been struggling due to tough trading conditions. The company plans to sell its stores in Britain and
assume the role of a master franchisor. Cash Converters is also abandoning Carboodle, its auto financing
business because of weak growth. The company is planning to venture into secured motor-lending
business instead.

Cash Converters will offer a wide variety of loans amounting to $5,000. It is estimated that 1 million+
Australians take out payday loans among other types of short-term loans every year. Back in 2012,
Australia’s short-term loans market was estimated to be worth $800 million to $1 billion. The industry
has grown tremendously since.

Cash Converters made a $15.9 million half-year profit in 2015 up from a loss of $5.3 million the previous
year. Dividend payment stood at 2¢ a share.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.
New Year Resolutions: Do People Actually Stick To Them?

New Year Resolutions: Do People Actually Stick To Them?

According to statistics, only 10% of people who make New Year resolutions stick to them. This is a shocking statistic given most people make New Year resolutions. So, why is it so hard to stick to New Year resolutions?

1. Unrealistic resolutions: This has to be the most common reason why most people are unable to stick to their New Year resolutions. One of the best ways of achieving any goal is making sure it is realistic. Realistic goals are small and progressive which makes them more manageable. One great way of ensuring you set realistic resolutions is considering your current situation. If you are currently overweight, focus on losing weight gradually first. If you are already fit, it’s OK to push yourself further i.e. focus on building muscle. Focusing on build muscle when you are overweight is unrealistic.

The same applies to making resolutions to become a millionaire when you haven’t even started saving or you don’t have a business plan. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with having faith in yourself as well as pushing yourself to the limit. However, unrealistic resolutions make your journey extremely hard.This, in turn, leaves you with no option but to quit if you don’t have the willpower. Unfortunately, most people lack the willpower to consistently pursue their goals no matter what.

2. Lack of a plan or poor planning: It’s also impossible to do anything meaningful in life including sticking to New Year resolutions if you don’t have a plan and a solid one for that matter. Resolutions must be backed up by serious action plans that highlight the precise actions you plan on taking to achieve your goals.

Unfortunately, many people make blunt new year resolutions without preparing serious plans aimed at making sure those resolutions see the light of day. For instance, it’s not enough to say you want to save £10,000 this year. You have to sit down and plan how you will actually do it. For instance, do you intend on cutting down your expenditure on entertainment, clothes, shoes, etc.? What’s your plan for saving every month? What adjustments do you intend to make in your lifestyle?

Your plan has to be as detailed as possible for you to increase your chances of success.

3. Wrong perspective: Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. Ideally, you shouldn’t wait for the end of every year to make a resolution. Every single day presents an opportunity to learn and make new changes that drive you closer to being the person you have always wanted to be. Waiting for one day every year so that you can make resolutions makes it harder to progress. This is simply because you have to wait another year to make drastic changes when things don’t work out. This shouldn’t be the case. Although we don’t plan to procrastinate, New Year resolutions encourage procrastination which is one of the most common causes of failure. Life changes should be made every day when the need arises and not once a year.

4. Poor time management: Many people also have a hard time sticking to their new year resolutions because of poor time management. In most cases, making realistic resolutions, having a solid plan and the right perspective isn’t enough. You need to set some time apart to implementing those resolutions. Most resolutions require a bigger time commitment than most people anticipate. As a result, it’s extremely hard to stick to your resolutions if you don’t factor in the time aspect. You must create time if you don’t have any and make the necessary adjustments to your daily/weekly/monthly schedule to make sure you don’t interfere with other important commitments while implementing your resolutions.

5. Lack of accountability: Most people also have problems sticking to their new year resolutions because they lack accountability. You must be accountable to someone other than yourself i.e. your family members, friends, etc. if you want to pursue your goals to the end. It may take some courage to share your personal goals. However, your chances of reaching your goals increase when you are accountable to someone other than yourself. Many people lack the self-discipline to check on themselves and make the necessary adjustments to their schedules so, find someone you will be accountable to.

Summary

New year resolutions are great. However, they must be backed by serious action plans. New year resolutions also need to be realistic. You must also become a better time manager and hold yourself accountable if you want to stick to your new year resolutions to the end. Lastly, you need to have the right perspective about life. Every day presents an opportunity for learning so don’t wait for a date to make the necessary changes to your life.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.