I see lots of national debt advice lines advertised online, are they official?
Unfortunately, you’re likely to see many examples of these types of websites masquerading as an official national debt advice line. What’s more, many of these companies don’t have a Consumer Credit License, which is a legal requirement of trading as a debt adviser.
Ray Watson, OFT Director for Consumer Credit said:
‘The OFT will take action against businesses that use ‘look alike’ websites to mislead consumers into believing they are dealing with established charitable or not-for-profit organisations.
‘Consumers are also reminded that they should not deal with any company that does not have a consumer credit licence. These unlicensed businesses are unregulated and consumers may have no means of redress if things go wrong’.
Consumers can check whether a business holds an appropriate consumer credit license by searching the OFT Consumer credit register’.
Whilst websites claiming to be a national debt advice line make it deliberately difficult to distinguish them from genuine not-for-profit organisations, there are some useful rules of thumb you can apply:
- Does the website display a Consumer Credit License number?
- Not-for-profit sites will never ask you to complete a form specifying how much debt you owe and how many creditors you have. The reason lookalike sites do this is so they can sell your contact details on, usually to a commercial IVA organisation.
- Does the site display a registered office or postal address
Debt Advice Foundation is a registered UK charity offering free, confidential support and debt help. If you need to talk to someone about debt, please call the charity’s helpline on 0800 043 40 50to speak to an adviser.