Four IVA probe firms named

The Advertising Standards Authority has named four individual voluntary arrangement firms it is investigating over their advertising claims.

Debt Free Direct, W3 Debt Solutions, The Debt People and Money Debt & Credit are all under ASA investigation.

DFD admits that despite being under scrutiny itself, it has shopped a total of 28 IVA providers to the ASA for making unfounded boasts about the amount of debt they are able to clear.

Derek Oakley, a director of DFD, says: “We believe in being honest and ethical in our dealings with consumers who need help with debt, including in our advertising. We have blown the whistle on several firms that claim their IVAs can remove more debt than is possible.

“Less scrupulous providers claim they can clear up to 90% of debt. This is not true.”

Chris Daw, director of The Debt People, says: “There has been a complaint made against us by DFD and we vigorously deny it. It claims we can’t say IVAs can remove up to 75% of debt but they can and DFD knows that.”

Andrew Bowers, managing director of Re10, an insolvency practitioner that is not under investigation, says: “If firms only offer IVAs, promises of 75% would be misleading but if they offer lump sum settlements or credited trust deeds, 75% is technically possible.”

Dev Malle, director of mortgage distribution at Personal Touch Financial Services, says the news that complaints have been made is a concern because brokers need to trust IVA providers.

He says: “There is a demand for good IVA firms and a concern for brokers is the quality of firms they do business with.”

An ASA spokeswoman confirms the four firms are under investigation.

She adds: “There have been complaints about aspects of these companies’ adverts but we can’t confirm the number of complaints.”

W3 Debt Solutions and Money Debt & Credit declined to comment.