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Russians withdrawing credit cards and consumer debt spirals



For some Russians, personal debt is similar to the gardens of the parents' generation. In the era of economic Soviet depression, many low-income families cultivated their own food, turning their kitchens into storage rooms for pickled vegetables, dried mushrooms and homemade potato sacks.

Despite these years of miserable poverty, the country's capitalist era with some benefits. Families had no debt, and virtually every adult wound up owning the property where they lived. But they were also unskilled when it came to lending or calculating reasonable debt levels. And they were unprepared for a rush of predatory lenders offering fast loans with high interest rates.

At the end of 2018, there were 2,002 lending companies in Russia, with many operating from major fronts in provincial cities and offering a monthly loan with interest rates daily. Established banks merged and provided loans and credit cards with quick approvals.

Igor Kostikov, chairman of the Union for Protecting Financial Consumers, an advocacy group for debtors, said that poor Russians accumulated chord loan debt. "They are getting deeper and deeper into trouble," he said. "The poorest will not be able to repay."

On Vkontakte, a social media site, Russians exchange stories of debt and bankruptcy, revealing the naivety of their experience with debt.

A user, who identified himself as Helga, wrote and sought free legal advice. “Respected Lawyers! I have the opportunity to take out a loan of three to five million rubles, or $ 48,000 to $ 80,000. "If I take it out, pay sometimes and then declare bankruptcy, what problems can arise?" She thought about possibly spending the money on a down payment on a home.
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