Changes to the Office of Fair Trading's guidance on debt collection procedures

The Consumer Credit Act of 1974 obliges many businesses using credit for goods or services to obtain a license from the Office of Fair Trading. This government office aims to protect consumers by monitoring businesses to ensure that they comply with its guidelines for debt collection procedures.

In 2011, the OFT made a consultation on the plans to revise the Debt Collection Guidance. This revision had been motivated by a number of complaints related to disputed debts that were caused by data inaccuracies within the departments of debt agencies. The OFT had highlighted the fact that the selling and buying of debt is not administered under any regulatory guidance for competence and customer service.

Since this was realised, the OFT has been trying to alleviate the issue of disputed debts, however, more efforts need to be made to develop improvements in the data that is stored or passed on by creditors. These companies usually call customers requesting repayments to any outstanding fees. If customers do not pay, creditors will issue more threatening letters. After a number of missed payments, the creditors will issue a default notice, which will terminate the agreement altogether.

People who are experiencing debt should seek as much advice as they can. The Citizens Advice Bureau offers independent advice to help people with their debt problems. The bureau employs workers in more than 3,000 locations in the country and does not charge a fee. Meanwhile, the National Debtline is also available for further independent advice and its website provides publications which can be downloaded free of charge.

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