Tuesday, 28 September 2010

OFT debt action

In view of today's news that the OFT is taking action to address widespread problems in the debt management industry, it seems appropriate to share our video about searching Government sites for debt advice. Action is most welcome in a market which impacts on millions, but Zero-credit would like to see more consumer protection. 


[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/9153329 w=500&h=283]


Simply withdrawing licenses from unethical advisers is not enough. Government response has often passed its sell-by date before it's off the factory floor. How else did the OFT's High Cost Credit Review (June) miss Consumer Focus's critical information (August) that PayDay loans increased by 400% over the past four years?


We're not talking a niche or a minority here, consumers in financial difficulty are a whopping great cash cow, in which continual diversification is dodging the Colossus. Folk will try anything and everything to hide the fact that they're struggling and don't the cowboys just know it.


If we're serious about regulatory action, we need the political will to insist upon licensing clarity, operational search facilities and the removal of sponsored links attached to Government sites. Facing job and wage cuts, the very least the Government can do is to ensure consumers aren't scammed.


For instance, when there are two categories of debt counselling license - commercial and non-commercial - why aren't directories like Yellow Pages required to inform the consumer of this? Or indeed, when Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis can protect his content to the hilt with trademarks, why can't the UK debt charities? Come on, Westminster, get your EDMs out! 


The media too needs a wake up call. All too often, consumer rights and financial inclusion reporting is sullied by adverts for all manner of debt advice, high cost credit and managed accounts posing as basic. Oh how the Artful Dogders must laugh when the papers expose a crook, only to present others as seemingly well connected through Adsense. 


There's a role for professional dialogue here too and Zero-credit welcomes the news from The Debt Resolution Forum that this year's conference is open to not-for-proft agencies, advisers and DEMSA members too. There are some 15 million consumers struggling with debts in the UK. It's high time we took the situation seriously. 

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