British loan providers could be fined for misleading vulnerable customers after the European Commission found that their websites were giving the wrong information on costs.
The commission did not name the 38 out of 47 loan websites that it said “contained some irregularities” when they were investigated. The UK part of the EU-wide investigation focused on the subprime borrowing market, and was carried out by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
“The main findings were that sites did not comply with the consumer credit advertising regulations; they omitted key information about the products offered; and gave misleading information on costs, ” a spokesman for the OFT said. The OFT has the power to fine these companies if it feels the need to do so.
The spokesman said the investigation had been focused on loans for those who have poor credit ratings “where the risk of financial hardship to people may be higher”. He said: “The investigation did not cover the whole consumer credit market.”
He added that the OFT would shortly be launching a more in-depth review of companies offering payday loans, to see if they comply with the standards set out in the OFT’s Irresponsible Lending Guidance.
EU Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said: “When people look for credit they sometimes discover that this credit turns out to be more expensive than it had originally appeared, because important information was sometimes unclear or missing. Consumer credit is not always easy to understand, which is why there is European legislation in place to help consumers make informed decisions.”
*reported by telegraph.co.uk*