Loan shark posted my photos on social media

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I borrowed a loan for $5,000 in 2021 when I was going through a tough time with work. I was given a date to repay, but I explained to them that I wasn't able to pay on that day. The lender increased the loan to $9,000 within a week. I promised to pay back the $9,000. One day I received an e-mail asking if I wanted the loan to be refinanced and left at $9,000. The e-mail was sent in the early morning and I didn't get to check until in the evening after work. By that time I saw two e-mail messages from the lender; one about the refinance offer, and another saying because I didn't reply, they would not be able to refinance the loan. Then the amount started to rise. Each day they kept adding $500. I paid more than $30,000 just to clear the late fees. Any time I didn't pay, they'd call family members, and now I am seeing my picture posted on social media saying I am a delinquent borrower and that I refuse to pay, when I made more payments than the $5,000 that the lender gave me. What can I do?

You have not stated the actual date that the loan was made or the date of repayment, or the rate of interest the lender attached to it. You say that since you were not able to repay the $5,000 on the due date, it was increased. It is not clear whether the addition of $4,000 to the principal sum you borrowed was the interest the lender was claiming was due to them for the period from the date of the loan to the due date. This I suspect was what was done, and the principal sum you borrowed was added to the interest to make the new principal sum of $9000, on which you were thereafter charged interest.

This would mean that the lender was charging you interest upon interest. Were you in fact told and did you agree to the lender's rate of interest? Did you know what the percentage rate amounted to in money?

Money lending contracts must include full particulars in them of all the terms of the contract. If you did not have all the terms or you did not understand one or more terms and they were not explained to you, then there could not have been consensus ad idem (a meeting of the lender's and your mind), which is necessary for a valid contract.

In addition you say that you have paid $30,000 to clear "late fees", with no sign that any part of the principal sum you borrowed has been paid. I hope that you have kept the social media publications as proof of their libellous publications.

It is clear that you do not really understand how your very small loan came to be so large and you clearly need some assistance to get you out of the clutches of this lender.

I must say this, that your case demonstrates why no one should enter loan agreements when they do not even know the questions to ask of the lender and the answers which should have warned you off such a lender. In such cases, you should always seek advice from a lawyer. Though you would have to pay for such advice, it would have cost you less in money and aggravation if you had done so.

My advice therefore is that you must go to a lawyer and have your facts and those of the lender's business and practices clearly ascertained and assessed. Then a properly informed decision can be made about what legal action can be taken on your behalf to extract you from what, on the face of it, seems to be an excessive, exorbitant and unconscionable rate of interest.

In addition, the libel being committed against you on social media must be part of your claims and for the award of damages. Such statements are clearly false and may be proved to be intentionally malicious also, which could result in exemplary damages for defamation of your character and besmirching of your reputation.

This lender could be acting contrary to the Money Lending Act. This would not mean that you did not or do not have a loan, but taking the matter to the court with the claims I have mentioned and alluded to, will permit the court to open up the entire issue of the loan from its inception up to you paying so much for late fees, and still owing what you borrowed.

By giving full and detailed information to the lawyer and all your documents relating to the loan and all communications from the lender, and your replies and records of the social media publications, you will enable your lawyer to make all the claims which can be filed to free you, and also to give you whatever recompense the court is likely to award. You have a clear legal cause of action which ought to go in your favour. Only through the law can you curb this lender and free yourself.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

Margarette MACAULAY

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