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B.C. payday loan customers due $1 million in refunds

A B.C. payday loan company is being forced to refund more than $1 million to customers after the Supreme Court of B.C. upheld an order from the province's consumer protection agency.

Edmonton-based Cash Store Financial Inc., which operates The Cash Store and Instaloans branches in Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich and Colwood, was the focus of a Consumer Protection B.C. investigation in 2010.

Between Nov. 2009 and March 2012, Consumer Protection B.C. found more than 68,000 customers were illegally charged for using cash debit cards and other infractions, said Manjit Bains, vice president of corporate relations at Consumer Protection B.C.

In 2012, Cash Store was ordered to pay more than $1 million back to customers. Cash Store asked for judicial review, but lost their battle in a Jan. 31 supreme court decision that upheld the compliance order.

Cash Store has 30 days to appeal the decision.

"Consumers have waited long enough and now it's time for Cash Store to refund their money," Bains said.

The onus lies with Cash Store to contact its customers and make them aware of the refund process, she said.

Any funds that remain unclaimed, after all efforts to reach eligible consumers are exhausted, are held by Consumer Protection B.C. for a further six years, during which time claims for refunds can be submitted directly to the agency.

The rights of consumers who use payday loan services is available at paydayloansrights.bc.ca or by calling 1-888-564-9963.

British Columbians borrowed more than $350 million through payday loans in 2013, according to Consumer Protection B.C.

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