It looks like payday loan company Cigno has another angry customer.
“There’s nothing I can do about it, I just have to watch my accounts get taken out,” client Blaise Giuliani said. A topical matter.
“I was going through financial issues. My partner and I had just moved to another city, we were applying for jobs, we were in the middle of a Centrelink application process, we didn’t have much or no income.”
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Desperate for money, Giuliani said he borrowed $200 from Cigno.
According to his statement, he had to repay $850.
“Stress is the big problem – it caused a lot of stress, obviously with my bank accounts and all the interest and fees that piled up,” Giuliani said.
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“I ended up separating from my partner, so it’s been a painful process and a complicated year.”
Cigno has no easily identifiable corporate headquarters, the email address available on the website is barely answered, and the phone number goes straight to a recorded message.
“Rest assured that Cigno will stand with you and do everything in his power to get through this together,” his recorded message read.
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Now, that seems ironic given the situation Giuliani says he finds himself in.
“I’ve contacted Cigno, sent them a bunch of emails over the last three months, tried calling them, tried texting them and can’t seem to get them. join,” Giuliani said.
“I can’t access my account for some reason so I can’t use the online portal. Basically I’ve been blocked.”
Former debt collector and compliance expert Laurence Barlow said he thinks the problem with payday lenders is that they’re not regulated the way a financial company is regulated.
“There are a handful of payday lenders that are inflating prices, like Cigno, which is causing real problems for the whole industry,” Barlow said.
“They require the consumer to sign a direct debit form which gives Cigno access to their bank account.
“The loan may be for six weeks, but (customers think) ‘I’ll pay it off in a week’.
“They pay it back in a week and they think it’s all done, but what the payday lender is doing is continuing to charge consumer fees for the remaining term of the loan.
“So the payday lender is trying to take funds, it’s bouncing, then it’s getting charged fees and bounce fees; before you know it, you’ve got a cascading situation.”
A topical matter asked Barlow to take a close look at Cigno’s statement from Giuliani.
“It’s just unconscionable behavior. I think you would need to hire a forensic accountant to go through that because it just doesn’t make sense,” Barlow said.
“It looks like they either have a systematic error in the way they handle it, or it’s done deliberately to confuse the customer.”
A topical matter contacted Cigno Loans for a statement and received this: “Unfortunately, we are unable to find an account associated with this email address.”
“I think their business should be shut down completely,” Giuliani said.
“I don’t think they deserve to be in business.”
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