AS Black Friday arrives, pay-day loans should be avoided, credit union bosses warned.
The stark message was issued to thousands of shoppers who face a black day today, as hefty Christmas bills land on their doormat.
Friday has been dubbed Pay-day Loan Danger Day but Glasgow Credit Union says it should be a day of reckoning, with shoppers and others marking the warning by taking steps to safeguard themselves against crippling debts.
Five top tips have been issued by Brtain's biggest and most successful credit union, which has 32,000 members across Glasgow, at a time when government research reveals that 1.2million people began 2014 in debt after signing up to payday loans last month.
Borrowers are being urged not to panic or ignore bills but to prioritise payments, especially for any loan secured against their home.
Those with bank overdrafts and credit cards are best to shop around for the cheapest charges and to consider a consolidation loan.
Lenders should be alerted about any repayment difficulties and borrowers should always read the small print if thinking of taking out a pay-day loan. Borrowers are also advised to compile a list detailing income and out-goings and to ditch non- essential items.
June Walker, chief executive of Glasgow Credit Union, said: "When bills are coming thick and fast, and your next pay packet seems ages away, the temptation of a short-term pay-day loan to get you through to the end of the month is understandable.
"But there are other solutions, such as consolidating existing debts into one manageable loan from a responsible and reputable lender.
"Doing this not only helps you get a better picture of your outstanding commitments, but it could also save you money."
She insists January 24 needn't be a "Black Friday" if people follow her five golden rules to avoid crippling debts and take control of their finances.