Consumer Credit Act 1974 (as amended by the Consumer Credit Act 2006)*
* From 26 May 2008 see Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
The Act regulates the way that credit is offered to consumers. Most people who offer credit or hire facilities (including credit brokers who arrange credit) must be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading. Applicants have to satisfy the Director General that they are fit to have a licence. It is a criminal offence to operate without a licence.
The Act and Regulations made under it also specify the form and content of credit agreements and advertisements. For example, you may see ‘APR’ on some advertisements for credit. This is short for the Annual Percentage Rate of charge and is a measurement of the total cost of credit, expressed as an annual rate. The APR is calculated according to standard formulae laid down in Regulations under the Act.
The Act gives you certain rights when using credit to buy goods. If you sign a credit agreement away from the trader’s premises (for example, in your own home) and you discussed the transaction face to face with the creditor or dealer, you can cancel the agreement at any time between signing it and the fifth day after receiving the required copy.
If credit has been arranged to enable you to buy goods where the cash price is over£100 but not more than £30,000 and the goods are faulty, you may be able to claim compensation from the credit company instead of the seller. So if you bought a faulty stereo on a credit agreement or with a credit card and the seller goes bankrupt, you may still be able to get your money back from the credit company.