Registration reminder for businesses offering credit
The Highland Council’s Trading Standards team is reminding Highland businesses involved in the provision of credit to consumers that they must register by the end of the month with the new Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). Businesses affected include obvious financial sector operators like lenders, credit brokers, debt collection specialists, debt management companies and pawnbrokers. But these requirements also cover retailers who sell large items often financed through credit such as car dealers, furniture shops and home improvement companies.
Trading Standards Manager Gordon Robb explained: “For the last 40 years, businesses involved in consumer credit have been required to hold a licence with the London-based Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Now a new Regulator - the FCA - is taking over and these local firms must register with the FCA. This applies not just to financial companies who lend money, but also to retailers who arrange for their goods to be bought by consumers using credit agreements. A typical example is a car being sold on hire purchase.”
OFT licences will expire at the end of March and businesses must apply before then to the FCA for interim permission to carry on trading legally. Thereafter, the FCA will be back in touch regarding ongoing regulatory requirements.
Consumer credit remains a priority subject for Highland Trading Standards.
Mr Robb added: “My team of officers is active in dealing with the undesirable activities of some high cost lenders such as payday loans companies. Action has also been necessary against unscrupulous debt collection tactics and we regularly assist local consumers with other credit issues that commonly arise as a result of the often-complex rules surrounding major consumer purchases financed by credit. Trading Standards have had a very constructive relationship with the OFT for the past 40 years and we look forward to working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure that local businesses get the help they need to comply and that consumers are protected from bad practices.”
All the information businesses need on the new arrangements is available on the FCA website at: www.fca.org.uk and