OFT tells Wonga to improve debt collection practices

The Office of Fair Trading has told Wonga.com and some of its associates to ensure that aspects of their debt collection practices are acceptable.

The OFT action follows statements made by Wonga to customers in two types of written communications and in the wording of one call script.

Without having appropriate justification the letters or emails suggested that customers may have committed fraud and that Wonga would consider contacting the police if customers did not act as Wonga requested.

The wording in the call script stated that customers with jobs in the public or financial sectors should not find themselves in debt, and that this was stated in their terms of employment.

The letters and emails were sent to customers who had claimed money back from Wonga by asking their card providers to reverse a payment made to the company. They were also sent to some customers who had entered into debt management plans.

As a result, the OFT has imposed a requirement on Wonga that its communications must not, without appropriate justification:

  • allege that a customer has, or may have, engaged in criminal conduct or refer to the consequences of such conduct.
  • state that a customer should not be in debt if the customer has a certain employment status or for any other reason.

David Fisher, director of consumer credit at the OFT, says: “We have acted to ensure that Wonga does not behave this way again. I would like to make it clear to businesses that they must not adopt aggressive or misleading practices with their customers.”

The OFT launched a review of the payday loan sector in February. It expects to announce its findings and strategy to raise standards across the sector later this year.