The Society of St Vincent de Paul wants to see all licenced moneylenders carry a tobacco-style 'high cost loans' warning on their advertising and literature.

In a submission to the Department of Finance, the society has said it was astonishing that no such warning was currently required.

According to the Central Bank, while moneylenders are required to provide information about the high cost nature of the loan to their customers, this is typically provided in the moneylending agreement, which must be signed by the customer.

However, it is not a requirement for it to be included in adverts for moneylending loans.

The society has said that "Warning: This is a high cost loan" should be on all moneylending advertisements and literature.

It said the warning should also point out that alternatives to high cost loan offerings may be available and that people should check their options before borrowing.

There are an estimated 330,000 customers of moneylenders in Ireland.

SVP also believes that there should be a statutory maximum cost of credit that can be charged by a moneylender and that consumers should have better access to sources of low-cost credit. 

It said this could be achieved through the introduction of a statutory interest rate cap.

"This should be done at the same time and in conjunction with the introduction and strengthening of other measures to protect vulnerable customers of moneylenders," says Caroline Fahey, SVP Head of Social Justice.

Kieran Stafford, SVP National President added: "SVP members regularly report inappropriate lending to very vulnerable households who do not have the capacity to repay the loan. 

"It is our experience that people tend to use moneylenders when they have limited access to other sources of credit and they may be worried about cutting themselves off from this source of credit by reporting abuses within the sector.

"Living on a low income and having a poor credit rating limits the options for people who are trying to access credit.

"Moneylenders are meeting a need for access to credit but often at a cost which people who are better off and who have other options would baulk at. Repaying a high cost loan is a very heavy burden for households that are struggling and can lock them into a cycle of debt and poverty."

Ms Fahey said moneylenders tend to drop leaflets at this time of year as it is a busy time for parents with back to school costs.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Fahey said that a €500 loan could result in interest repayments of €150 with a moneylender, while a similar loan with a credit union would incur interest of around €16.