People on low incomes who rent domestic appliances can end up paying more than double the normal high street price.
Research conducted by children's charity Barnardo's found that consumers who cannot afford to buy appliances outright can end up paying hundreds of pounds more for appliances, such as fridges and freezers, by going through rent-to-own schemes.
The organisation found that in one case, a fridge freezer with a high street price tag of £430 would cost £1,074 when bought over a three-year period through a credit scheme. According to a report by The Guardian, Barnardo's also found a Beko washing machine that cost £780 more when purchased through a weekly payment shop.
Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said the charity is calling on the Office of Fair Trading to step in and protect families by making sure that lenders "make clear their extortionate rates".
She said: "In these tough economic times, the most vulnerable families in society are being lured into an unaffordable debt trap by a morally bankrupt lending industry.
"Preventing families from resorting to exploitative rent-to-own arrangements involves providing both good financial advice and fit-for-purpose bank accounts for those living on the tightest budgets."