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Debt management firm fined by Information Commissioner’s Office

Oxygen Ltd, a debt management firm based in south Wales, has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaching cold-calling regulations.

The ICO’s investigation found Oxygen Ltd had made more than 1m automated calls, via a third party, which claimed they could write off up to 70% of their debts, without people’s consent during April.

Regulator raises concerns about credit card debt

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today released its interim findings of its wide-ranging credit card market study.

The regulator has raised concerns that, whilst there was clear evidence of effective support mechanisms for the 2 million people that have fallen into arrears, the 1.6 million people that were just ‘getting by’ by making the minimum payment were not being helped as effectively.

The regulator said it was concerned that the profitability of these customers to the credit card companies may be contributing to the lack of support.

Latest figures show modest increase in insolvencies

The Insolvency Service’s latest statistical release, covering the period July to September 2015, shows an increase in the number of insolvencies for the first time in five quarters.  The 2.8% overall increase to 19,683 in Q3 was driven principally by a higher IVA volumes, which rose by 9%.

Charity's education programme recognised by Spirit of the Community Awards 2015

Debt Advice Foundation has been named as a finalist in the Spirit of the Community Awards 2015 education category for its ground-breaking peer to peer financial education programme DebtAware.

The annual awards, which are supported by the Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank Foundation, provides funds to help registered charities and other voluntary organisations that contribute to making life safer, healthier and better for their local communities.

The charity receives £5,000 for being named as a finalist.

Benefits Awareness Month

As the arguments rage over the country’s finances in general and the welfare budget in particular, one fact is not in dispute: thousands of low income households do not check their entitlement to benefits.

This is Benefits Awareness Month, organised by Turn2Us which helps people in financial need find welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Their research suggests that as many as a third of households with low income could be missing out on benefits, because they simply have not checked what they could be claiming. 

No politics here – but don’t forget to register and Use Your Vote

We’ve been a bit quiet recently – mainly because so much of the discussion around money and debt has been politically weighted in the run up to the election.

We try to stay balanced here, because we know that unmanageable debt is no respecter of status, potential income or political view.   So we have not been sharing reports and information as we normally do, since understandably so much of the recent news has been designed to sway voters one way or the other.

"More needed to counter the ruthless marketing of loans to people who need help managing their finances” Debt Advice Foundation

Payday lenders are to be forced to make details of their loans available to price comparison websites, to encourage greater competition.  In its final report on the payday lending market, the Competition and Markets Authority says that clear comparisons will help borrowers get a better deal.

Financial sector must treat vulnerable customers with more care and understanding, says the FCA

Financial ompanies need to take greater care and to have better strategies for dealing vulnerable customers, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said.

The regulator has produced a new report designed to increase understanding and to help companies develop better ways of identifying and helping vulnerable people.  It sets out best practice, but also highlights examples of people who have not been treated fairly, even when their difficulties should have been obvious.

Household debt increased “ at fastest rate for a decade” last year

Latest figures from The Money Charity show that the UK’s appetite for taking on more credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts increased dramatically in 2014.

We took on an average of just under £400 of additional consumer debt per household last year – the biggest increase since 2004. Borrowing dropped every year from 2009 to 2012.

Last year's increase contrasts sharply with 2013, when our consumer borrowing went up by just £50 from the previous year.

New compensation scheme for credit card security policies

The Financial Conduct Authority has announced a new credit card-linked compensation scheme. This one relates to card security policies, most of them under the Sentinel brand name, which were sold to customers of 11 high street banks.

One of the features of the card security products was insurance to cover fraudulent use if a card was lost or stolen. However, customers were already covered, because the card companies were mostly responsible for payments made with a stolen or lost card.