The B.C. government is rolling out a new set of rules designed to protect individuals from exorbitantly high fees when cashing their BC Employment and Assistance cheques.
“Our government is working to provide opportunities to help lift people out of poverty,” said Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction. “Today’s announcement will ensure people, who are receiving income and disability assistance, and who rely on these services, are protected from unscrupulous practices, and have more money left in their pocket after they cash their cheque.”
The new rules and limits will be enforced beginning Sept. 1, and include protections such as lowering the maximum fee to $15 from $17 for every $100 borrowed, extending the payday-loan agreement cancellation period to two full business days, forbidding a payday lender requiring consent from a borrower to use or disclose their personal information for anything other than providing a payday loan, clarifying payday lenders’ data-reporting timelines, and capping the fee for cashing a provincial social assistance or disability cheque at $2 plus 1 per cent of the cheque’s value up to a maximum fee of $10.
In 2016, more than 160,000 British Columbians borrowed more than $369 million in payday loans, which equals approximately $460 per day on average. Rob Gialloreto, president and CEO of Consumer Protection BC, said that number was approaching $400 million a year.
“We support efforts of this nature by the province that are designed to protect vulnerable consumers who use the services of any high-cost lender,” he said.
The province has also launched a new website designed to help inform people before they take out any kind of loan. It includes facts about credit products and services, borrowers rights and where they can go for assistance if required.
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