PAYDAY loan debt problems in Hartlepool have increased by over 50 per cent in a year.
Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau, in Park Road, Hartlepool, has dealt with 257 payday loan inquiries for advice and support so far this year.
This is compared to 168 cries for help last year - a 53 per cent hike.
And advice staff are worried that with the onset of Christmas people will look to get cash quick but be left with large debts and high interest charges come January.
Bureau manager, Joe Michna, said: “We want our clients to help us hold payday lenders to account. For too many people payday loans are a fast but dangerous way to borrow money.
“Quick cash payouts can have damaging long-term consequences.
“We’ve seen problems relating to payday loans rise significantly over the last four years and we’re worried that this will only increase as more people feel the squeeze.
“Christmas can be a particularly expensive time, but January always comes and we urge people not to get stuck with a Christmas debt hangover and seek budgeting advice from the CAB in Hartlepool now.”
The Bureau released the figures as the new payday lending customer charter is launched.
The Citizens Advice service nationally has seen a 10-fold increase in the proportion of clients receiving casework help with multiple debts which included a payday loan debt in the last four years.
In the first quarter of 2009/10 only one per cent of CAB debt casework clients had at least one payday loan and in the same quarter last year this had risen to four per cent.
In the same quarter this year, 10 per cent had at least one payday loan.
Hartlepool CAB is urging anyone who is experiencing difficulties with a payday loan or considering taking one out to visit the bureau and seek advice about alternatives, on (01429) 268242.