Editorial - Don’t fall prey to money lenders

As the nights get darker and temperatures drop, queues at local shops will grow with the start of the busy Christmas shopping period.

Although this will provide a much needed boost to our beleaguered retail sector who have weathered the economic storm in recent years, it could bring misery to many others.

It seems the Christmas shopping rush starts earlier and gets bigger each year in spite of the economic downturn.

Many families are under intense pressure to keep up with the demands of the increasing consumerism of the season and rising costs coupled with dwindling incomes is a recipe for serious problems.

Unfortunately, some will bow to consumer pressure and spend more than they can afford. Some then may fall prey to unscrupulous money lenders charging exorbitant interest rates.

Despite efforts to clean up the money lending industry recently, many companies still provide easy access to large amounts of cash and while this may seem attractive to those struggling to make ends meet in the run-up to Christmas, the astronomical interest they charge only serves to make matters worse.

Continuous debt repayments that lasted all year were once common in Derry and unfortunately seem to be becoming the norm again.

One surefire way to break the vicious cycle of debt is to support local and trusted financial institutions like the Credit Union, set up to drive out the gombeen men who tormented the poor of the city.

Otherwise the bills of Christmas will still be there to be paid long after the festive season is over, bringing a bleak new year of mounting debt to the most vulnerable households in the city.