Debt Management Companies – OFT takes action

The Office of Fair Trading has threatened six debt management companies and four cold-calling businesses with enforcement action unless they stop using unsolicited and misleading calls.

Citizens Advice director of public policy Teresa Perchard said: "This is absolutely the kind of prompt and decisive action needed to tackle rogues taking advantage of the downturn.

The OFT and the Information Commissioner’s Office took action after consumers were cold-called either without prior consent or despite registering with the Telephone Preference Service. The OFT also found that most of the information given to consumers was potentially misleading or inaccurate, or missed out vital facts about the purpose of the call and the identity of the caller.

Some calls misled consumers into believing that they were one of the ‘chosen individuals’ contacted as part of a government scheme to help wipe out consumer debt; others were transferred to a commercial debt management business on the pretext of talking to a not-for-profit debt adviser; and, once referred to a different business, consumers were often not told that there was a fee payable for the advice and solutions offered.

When choosing a debt management company, you should always choose a reputable and professional organization suitably registered with the Office of Fair Trading and Information Commissioner.