The payday loans industry has been slammed after it emerged that the number of ads for loans seen by children was as many as 70 a year, a rise of almost 20,000% in the last four years.
The figures back up already published criticisms that cartoon characters and childish jingles have made taking out the controversial loans, which can charge as much as 5,000%, become recognised as part of normal family behaviour.
Astonishing research by website moneysavingexpert.com has revealed that one in seven parents have been nagged by their children under ten-years-old to get a payday loan when they have refused to buy something.
Regulator Ofcom said that 3 million payday loan ads were seen by children aged four to 15 in 2008, but by 2012 that number had rocketed to 596 million. It means the average child saw 70 payday loan adverts last year, an increase of nearly 20,000%.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said to the Standard: “Payday lenders are unashamedly and irresponsibly using adverts to prey on poorer households in a bid to capitalise on the cost of living crisis. Payday lenders should not be targeting children and teenagers with adverts.
“It is deeply concerning that children and teenagers were exposed to three times as many payday loan ads in 2012 compared to 2010. More and more adverts are appearing on music channels and TV stations popular with teenagers and young people as lenders try to entice the next generation of borrowers.”
Citizens Advice has launched a campaign against irresponsible advertising including using celebrity endorsements and cartoon characters in ads.
Quoted in the Standard, Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com said: “The Ofcom research is proof that payday lenders are grooming our children to be the next generation of borrowers. Ofcom’s research should act as a clarion call for the Government to ban all high-cost credit advertising from kids’ TV.”