SHOPPERS have been urged to follow the ‘12 rules of Christmas’ amid warnings more people are struggling to repay expensive pay day loans.

Hounslow Citizens Advice Bureau this week advised bargain hunters to stay savvy and avoid falling deeper into debt over the festive season.

CAB borough director Parveen Sohal said the charity’s local branches had seen a ‘dramatic increase’ in the number of clients falling into debt after taking out pay day loans with interest rates of up to 3,000 per cent.

“While payday loans can be a quick and easy way to borrow money, with cash credited to bank accounts within 60 seconds of an application, there can be a sting in the tail,” she told the Chronicle.

“If a borrower does not pay back the money within a few days they can be forced to pay back a sum greater than they initially borrowed, due to the astronomical APR (annual percentage rate). We are seeing cases of clients with several of these loans getting into financial difficulty.”

The charity, which offers free advice on issues ranging from housing to employment, also said it was concerned about the number of people paying for advice from debt management companies.

To help shoppers stay solvent in the run-up to Christmas, it has offered the following tips:

Make a budget and stick to it - why not agree with some friends or family not to buy presents and instead plan a joint activity in 2012?

Be aware of your rights if you buy faulty goods. You’re entitled to your money back if you’re quick. If not, you could be offered a repair or replacement to put things right

Check the size before you buy

Keep the receipt

Armchair shoppers get a seven-day cooling-off period from the day the goods are delivered. When returning goods always email or write to let the company know and get a postage receipt

Don’t put presents away to wrap up later. Check them carefully as soon as they arrive

Don’t get caught out with parking charges. Check notices carefully

Check the cost of credit, especially if signing up to a new store card. Don’t be rushed into an expensive deal just because there’s a queue

Always check the delivery date. If you’ve placed an order and think it’s not going to arrive in time, you can cancel by letter or email. But let the seller know as soon as possible so you don’t end up paying to return it.

Watch out for dodgy traders. What looks like a bargain may not be one if it turns out to be faulty and you can’t find the trader after Christmas.

Your rights are just the same if you are buying goods in the sale as at any other time. But if there is a notice or a tag on the product that says it is faulty - that’s why it’s cheap. If you buy it you’re accepting that fault.

Plan ahead and buy gifts, cards and wrapping paper in the sale for Christmas 2012

For more information about Hounslow CAB, visit or call 0844 4994 113.