OFT v misleading debt management firms

The OFT has found that four businesses and their associates who targeted consumers with misleading unsolicited mailings may have mis-sold Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) to consumers.

As a result the OFT has revoked the consumer credit licences of Bankruptcy Limited (BL), Intl Marketing Limited (IML), UK Bankruptcy Limited (UKB) and UK Mortgage Link Limited (UKML).

The companies and/or their associates operated mainly out of the Dorset area and it is thought that some were linked to potentially misleading trading names including, ‘The IVA Council’, ‘IVA Review Board’ and ‘IVA Watchdog’. The businesses were associated with each other in various ways, not limited to having directors common to one or more of the misleading trading names and firms.

The mailings sent by the firms suggested that bankruptcy may be a better option for consumers, when this may not have been the case. Consumers then accepting the advertised services would have had to pay additional upfront fees to switch to a different debt solution that may not in all likelihood have been in their best interests.

As such, the poor quality advice and misleading nature of the mailings breached the OFT’s Debt Management Guidance.

BL and IML appealed against the OFT’s decisions. The revocations of their licences took final effect when IML’s appeal was struck out by the appeal Tribunal in March 2011 and BL withdrew its appeal in March 2011.

David Fisher, Director of the OFT’s Consumer Credit Group, said:

‘Companies must not use misleading mailings or give advice that they know may not be in the interests of borrowers. Where the OFT has evidence that companies have breached its guidance, it will use its powers to stop them from doing so again.’

CCDR does not operate in the debt markets highlighted in this debt industry news item. Corporate Credit Debt Recovery Ltd is a commercial debt recovery business offering small businesses to large corporate enterprises, debt recovery, debt mediation and outsourced credit control solutions from its offices in Spain and UK based, Liverpool head office.

If you are an individual in financial difficulty there are charities such as CCCS that can offer you impartial and free advice.

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