Payday Lenders Risk Losing Licenses

The OFT is giving the leading 50 payday lenders, accounting for 90 per cent of the payday market, 12 weeks to change their business practices or risk losing their licences.

They uncovered evidence of widespread irresponsible lending and failure to comply with the standards required of them.

The OFT has also announced that, subject to consultation, it proposes to refer the payday lending market to the Competition Commission after it found evidence of deep-rooted problems in how lenders compete with each other.

The action was announced in the final report on the OFT's compliance review of the £2 billion payday lending sector. The review found evidence of problems throughout the lifecycle of payday loans, from advertising to debt collection, and across the sector, including by leading lenders that are members of established trade associations.

Particular areas of non-compliance included lenders failing to conduct adequate assessments of affordability before lending or before rolling over loans. Lenders failing to explain adequately how payments will be collected. Lenders using aggressive debt collection practices.

Lenders not treating borrowers in financial difficulty with forbearance.

Clive Maxwell, OFT Chief Executive, said: "We have found fundamental problems with the way the payday market works and widespread breaches of the law and regulations, causing misery and hardship for many borrowers. Payday lenders are earning up to half their revenue not from one-off loans, but from rolled over or re-financed deals where unexpected costs can rapidly mount up.

"We are proposing to refer this market to the Competition Commission, which has wider powers to get to heart of the problems in this market and to identify and impose lasting solutions that protect consumers.

"Irresponsible lending is not confined to a few rogue payday lenders - it is a problem across the sector. If we do not see rapid, significant improvements by the 50 lenders we inspected they risk their licences being removed. Payday lending is a top enforcement priority for the OFT."


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