Media Matters

Leading free debt solutions provider welcomes OFT action

News   •   Sep 30, 2010 11:27 BST

Payplan, one of the UK’s leading and oldest established free debt solutions providers, has welcomed today’s warning by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to 129 debt management firms to start complying or face losing their consumer credit licence.

The OFT has given the offending companies three months to comply to its Debt Management Guidance – if they don’t, they face losing their licence and the right to operate.

The news has received a welcome response from national provider Payplan and other compliant organisations in the sector.

“Consumers who run into financial problems and have debt issues to contend with come to companies like our own at a very vulnerable time. It is vital they receive the correct service,” said John Fairhurst, managing director at Payplan.

“We operate standards of best practice in free debt management, we believe strongly that creditors should play a part in helping financial recovery. This is fundamental to our working model. What is frustrating is other companies purporting to do the same when it’s clearly evident they don’t.”

The OFT report highlighted the following significant areas of non-compliance:
- misleading advertising, in particular not disclosing a fee and misrepresenting the          services as being free when they are not.
- frontline advisers lacking in competence and providing poor advice based on     inadequate information.
- lack of mention of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for resolving     consumer complaints.

Today’s OFT report sets out a detailed action plan to improve standards across the industry, focusing on robust enforcement action against licensees that fail or refuse to change advertising and/or behaviour.

Commenting on the report, John Fairhurst added: “We hope the OFT exercise will help create a level playing field which will mean complete transparency and, at the same time, safeguard consumers against poor advice and unfair practices.

“This is crucial. Our trained debt consultants deal with extremely harrowing cases of hardship on a daily basis. It is our duty as an industry to ensure we work with consumers and their creditors to provide the very best manageable solution possible. This isn’t a commodity or a peripheral service, it is people’s livelihoods at stake and they need to be receiving the best qualified advice and guidance at all times.”

Payplan has actively campaigned for the Government to regulate the debt management industry. Established in 1993, the company is one of the UK’s longest-serving providers, working with the  Citizens Advice Bureau, National Debtline and the Institute of Money Advisers. Payplan also partners with the credit industry, leading unions and employers – all with one combined desire – to provide totally free debt management services.  

In its review of Payplan, the OFT found that Payplan’s business and processes are compliant and meet all of the standards as set out in the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (the Act) and the OFT's Debt Management Guidance.

For more information and free debt advice, contact Payplan or 0800 280 2816.

Note to editors:

The OFT report is available here:

Here is the BBC’s report of the findings to date:

Payplan is one of the UK’s leading providers of free debt solutions. Its award-winning service helps over 100,000 people in financial difficulties every year. With no fees to pay, it is the first choice for more and more consumers wanting help with budgeting, loans and credit card bills, repossession and mortgage arrears.