‘Deceptive and oppressive’ payday lender Yes Loans closed by regulator for exploiting cash-strapped customers
Controversial lender Yes Loans was on the verge of extinction today after the regulator lost patience with its “deceptive and oppressive business practices”.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) revoked the payday loan broker’s license after finding that it encouraged clients to take on expensive short-term loans – rather than products they initially asked for – and them misled them into believing it was a loan provider rather than a credit broker.
The company has 28 days to appeal the decision of the OFT and the directors have issued a joint statement that their licenses allow them to continue trading throughout this process.
‘Deceptive and oppressive’: Yes Loans ignored last year’s OFT warning
Yes Loans was one of the largest payday lenders in the country and drew a flood of complaints from clients for its stringent practices and very high interest rates.
Last year, OFT asked Yes Loans to clean up its act after an investigation uncovered unethical business standards – but as the company did not respond, the watchdog ultimately unplugged .
He revealed that Yes Loans used “high pressure” sales tactics to persuade consumers to give out their card details on the false premise that they were needed for security checks.
He also deducted brokerage fees without specifying that there were fees to be paid and sometimes did so without clients’ consent.
The watchdog has ruled that two associated companies, Blue Sky Personal Finance and Money Worries Limited, are also unfit to hold a consumer credit license.
Yes Loans “belatedly” made some changes to its way of operating following the investigation, including no longer charging fees in advance.
But the watchdog said that “evidence of a prolonged engagement in deceptive and oppressive business practices, and the continued presence of some of the staff responsible for running the businesses, renders them unfit to hold a credit license. for consumption “.
David Fisher, Director of Consumer Credit at OFT, said: “We will take decisive action to tackle businesses that do not treat people well, especially the most vulnerable.
“This action also clearly shows that the late change in business practices in the face of the prospect of enforcement action by the OFT does not make a business suitable for a credit license.”
Perhaps the most devious tactic of Yes Loans was the upfront fees charged before any loan search began. Yes was targeting low-credit customers who were desperate for credit and were taking £ 50-70 upfront with the promise of getting them a loan
But many customers had no response after remitting the charges to Yes.
YES READY: A HISTORY OF COMPLAINTS
Yes, the loans first caught the attention of Thisismoney.co.uk / MailOnline Money in 2008, when readers started complaining on the website’s bulletin board, HERE. As the response snowballed, it became apparent that there was a major problem with the practices of Yes Loans. Since then, the website has advised readers to stay away from Yes and similar companies and has campaigned for the watchdog to take action:
July 16, 2009: Yes Loans criticized by the watchdog
June 10, 2010: Beware of loans yes!
June 17, 2011: Payday Loan Warning – 5 Credit Problems To Avoid
The companies said they were “very disappointed” with the OFT decision and were considering what their next step would be.
The statement read: “We have all worked tirelessly to implement meaningful and fundamental breakthroughs for business.
“We are disappointed that, despite this recognition, the OFT has decided to revoke the licenses of three long-standing companies, which provide loan brokerage and other personal financial services to several thousand satisfied customers.
“We are currently in the process of taking advice on lodging an appeal against the decision. No job is threatened within the companies concerned, whatever the outcome of a possible appeal.
“Currently and throughout any appeal process, our licenses remain valid and allow us to continue trading. “
Yes Loans has been operating as a broker in the industry since 2003 and describes itself as “one of the UK’s leading unsecured loan brokers”, handling around 50,000 inquiries per month.
Some 83% of complaints filed with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) regarding Yes loans were confirmed in favor of clients in the last six months of 2011, compared to 75% in the first six months of last year.
The ombudsman formally investigated 133 complaints filed about Yes Loans in 2011. The FOS said it receives “many more inquiries” about credit brokerage in general, which are resolved without a formal investigation.
Overall, the FOS saw an 18% increase in credit brokerage complaints year over year, to 707 last year, with around two-thirds in favor of consumers.
Common complaints against businesses typically include consumers paying an upfront fee, with the understanding that they will receive credit at a certain rate, only to find the rate is much higher than expected.
The OFT launched an investigation into Yes Loans after receiving a number of consumer complaints.
In July 2009, the watchdog warned Yes Loans to clarify that it was a broker and not a lender after people said they had been misled.
OFT said the company should make it clear on its website and in the literature that it offers a credit brokerage service, where it arranges loans for people with a third party, and that it does not was not a lender herself.
Earlier this week, a committee of MPs warned parts of the credit industry are “opaque and poorly regulated” and called for tougher measures.
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