PEOPLE are being warned to consider their options carefully before signing up to loans from payday lenders.

The cautionary advice follows a warning by the Office of Fair Trading which recently opened formal investigations into several payday lenders over aggressive debt collection practices.

Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council Trading Standards manager, said: “While payday loan companies offer a convenient service which may be of advantage to some borrowers, the interest rates they charge can be significantly higher than typical high street lenders such as banks and building societies.

“The Office of Fair Trading report shows that a large number of payday loans are not repaid on time and incur considerable charges. Some of these companies also employ disarming sales techniques which target the most vulnerable.”

Clr Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council cabinet member for communities, said: "Credit Unions offer an alternative solution to your problems and Wigan Borough has two, Unify Credit Union based in Leigh and Ince and Welcome Credit Union based in Wigan market hall.

"Both are savings and loans co-operatives which can be accessed by anyone who lives or works in the borough of Wigan. By saving with them, members build up a credit history and can then go on to benefit from low cost loans.”