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Belfast money lender fined for aggressive behaviour – 29/06/2010

A Belfast doorstep money lender was today fined a total of £200 at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Skyline Superstore Limited, Unit 7, 6-16 Duncrue Crescent, Belfast pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice under the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In March 2009, a collections agent made an unsolicited visited to a debtor’s workplace to collect a repayment on a loan. As the agent was unable to make contact with the debtor he left a business card with a supervisor, which gave details of the reason for the visit on the reverse of the card.

Visiting debtors at inappropriate locations such as a workplace or hospital, and acting in a way likely to be publicly embarrassing to a debtor either deliberately or through lack of care, are cited as examples of unfair practices in the Debt Collection Guidance issued by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Damien Doherty of the Trading Standards Service said: “Skyline Superstore Limited have acted in a manner that drops below the standard expected of an established and reputable doorstep money lender. With the wealth of guidance and Codes of Practice available to traders engaged in providing consumer credit services, the company would have been well aware that its actions were aggressive in this instance.

The timing of the visit was aimed to coincide with contacting the debtor during working hours. Consequently, this increased the likelihood of the collections agent encountering the debtor’s work colleagues and disclosing details on what should be an entirely private matter. The Company have a right to collect debts but they must do so in a manner which is fair and does not amount to harassment. The complainant was not treated fairly by the Company and was aggressively pursued for the repayment of the loan.

The Trading Standards Service expects traders who engage in collecting repayments or debts to adhere to acceptable industry standards.”

Anyone who believes they have been treated unfairly or aggressively by a creditor should contact Domain Scams on 0300 123 6262 or on http://www.domainscams.co.uk.

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