Consumer credit websites to be investigated by OFT

The Office of Fair Trading is to scrutinise 38 consumer credit websites after an investigation by the European Commission found malpractice to be widespread.

The EC investigation found that 70% of the 562 websites checked across Europe needed further investigation, primarily because they omitted key information or presented costs in a misleading manner.

Of the 47 UK-based websites that came under scrutiny, 38 were found to need further investigation, which will be carried out by the OFT.

A spokesman for the OFT says the websites in question mainly offer sub-prime personal loans and include banks, payday loan providers and credit intermediaries.

He says: “We will be looking at these sites in more detail to see what action is appropriate, which could range from asking the firms to bring their sites in line with our guidelines to taking enforcement action if necessary.

“The main issue is ensuring consumer information is transparent.”

John Dalli, consumer commissioner at the European Union, says: “Consumer credit is not always easy to understand, which is why there is European legislation in place to help consumers make informed decisions.

“It is therefore important that businesses provide consumers with the correct and necessary information, and it is the role of the EC to work together with national enforcers to make this happen.”