CONSUMERWATCH: High-interest loans
Published Monday, April 16, 2012 10:12AM CST
Credit experts are advising anyone who is planning on taking out a high-interest loan to read the terms and conditions carefully before signing.
Tracy Thibert said the city ordered her to complete renovations on her property so she applied for an $8,000 loan from her bank in 2005.
"There were issues with my mortgage that I didn't know about so my bank wouldn't give me the loan," she said.
Thibert turned to Citi Financial. She was approved almost instantly for $8,500 but said the loan came at a high cost. The interest rate was set at about 30 per cent.
Two years later Thibert ran into more financial difficulties and stopped making payments on her loan.
Citi Financial then successfully sued her for the amount let owing on her loan. After four years of garnishing her wages, Thibert asked the bank what it would cost to settle the debt outright and was told it would be $10,000.
"I think that's ridiculous. I've already paid $12,000 and only borrowed $8,500," Thibert said.
What began as a $8.500 loan has now grown to more than $20,000 in debt, she said.
Credit counsellor Christi Posner said people need to read the bottom line carefully before they sign anything with lenders like Citi Financial.
Posner said it's important to check additional interest and fees associated with the loan. She said there are "hidden fees that can not only keep your loan at the same number but can also increase your loan balance."
For Thibert it's too late, and she said the court documents she receives regularly have been a source of constant stress.
"I messed up. I messed up huge, and I know I did. But how long do I have to pay for it?" Thibert said.
CTV News contacted Citi Financial about Thibert's situation. The lender would only say, "We strive to work with our customers to find a solution that's agreeable for all parties. At the same time, we also need to uphold the terms of the contract."
A Citi Financial spokesperson said they can't comment specifically about Thibert's situation as it is being dealt with by the courts.
Thibert has hired a lawyer to try and negotiate a lower settlement with Citi Financial and urges anyone considering taking out a high-interest loan to look into alternatives.