A Border financial counsellor has called for greater regulation of payday loans, which can attract equivalent annual interest rates of more than 400 per cent.
Sandra Blake, of Uniting Wodonga, said people on lower incomes were most likely to be caught in a debt spiral by the high repayments of easily accessible short-term loans.
She urged the federal government to adopt the recommendations in a 2016 review of short amount credit contract laws, which included lowering the cap on repayments and preventing unsolicited offers.
"It's about making these loans safe," she said.
"It's not about stopping the payday loan industry or consumer lease industry, it's about protecting the most vulnerable."
Research released by the Stop The Debt Trap Alliance showed a three-month payday loan of $600 would attract fees and equivalent interest charges of $192, far more than a credit card ($19.07) or bank ($13.04).
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Mrs Blake, who is part of the alliance, said she saw single mothers reliant on Centrelink who needed quick loans for utility bills.
"Debt prevents people from being able to participate in daily life and in some cases we do hear that people can't afford to purchase their own groceries," she said.
"I'm also concerned that people will be looking to use buy now, pay later options leading into Christmas and that's an emerging trend.
"We think if the government is truly committed to restoring trust in our financial services they need to introduce these laws and we would like to see that done by the end of this year."
A spokesman for Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the government was considering public submissions on the final reforms to ensure the right balance was struck.
"The government recognises the importance of protecting vulnerable consumers of financial products, which is why it is progressing changes designed to enhance protections for consumers of small amount credit contracts and leases," he said.
"However, it also recognises that small amount credit lenders and consumer lease providers play an important role by providing credit to consumers who, in many instances, are unable to access mainstream forms of finance."
Last month Mrs Blake received the Jan Pentland Memorial Award from the Financial and Consumer Rights Council, honouring her service to the wider community.
She is vice president and settlement officer of the Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group and a past chair of the North East financial counsellors group.
Mrs Blake hadn't known about her award beforehand and appreciated receiving three separate nominations from leaders in the sector.
"To think that they would recognise the work being done by a solo financial counsellor in the country, someone who's just going about her business, doing her job, it was nice to be recognised," she said.
"It's been a real privilege to work in an organisation where I've been able to help so many people who have been vulnerable financially."