As a consumer in the UK, you have various rights that are protected by law – including rights relating to debt. If you believe you have been treated unfairly by creditors, or you feel harassed by them, your rights may have been infringed.
It is vitally important to make sure you understand your rights and, if necessary, take steps to protect them. When it comes to debt, you should never pay anything to a company seeking money from you unless you’re completely certain that the company can prove you owe what they claim you owe. Just because you can remember borrowing that money, or spending on a credit card, this does not mean they have followed the law when lending to you, or that they can justify what they say you owe.
Being aware of your consumer rights and defending them against creditors who try to exploit you often isn’t easy. Much of the advice available online in user forums and on social media is wrong or misleading and may make matters worse if you follow it. However, help is at hand. At Consumer Law Barristers, we will provide you with the expert legal advice you need to make sure your interests are protected.
Your protections under UK law
In the UK, consumer credit is regulated by various pieces of legislation, the most important of which is the Consumer Credit Act. This Act of Parliament is a set of laws which are designed to help protect consumers and it covers the majority of consumer lending. The Consumer Credit Act details what creditors have to do when they lend money to consumers and when they collect it, as well as how they must deal with any disputes raised by the consumer. Additionally, it establishes various rights for consumers when they borrow money. First passed by Parliament in1974, the Consumer Credit Act has been updated and amended a number of times since and now gives greater protection to consumers than ever.
The Act covers a wide range of different types of credit, including:
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Payday loans
- Store cards
- ‘Buy now, pay later’ and store finance agreements
- Hire purchase agreements
- Guarantor loans
- Peer-to-peer lending
- Some secured loans.
There are some types of credit agreements that are not covered by the Act, including mortgages, credit union borrowing and electricity, gas and water meter agreements.
What’s included in the Consumer Credit Act?
These laws regulate credit card purchases and gives you various rights and protections when you enter into a hire or loan agreement. The Act establishes rules for the content and form of credit agreements, the method used to calculate annual percentage rates of interest (APR), and the information that consumers must be provided with before entering into these agreements. It also specifies procedures relating to events such as default on payment, termination of agreements and early settlement, as well as the ways in which credit is advertised to consumers. It details your right to a cooling off period too, and provides information on how and when you can cancel the agreement, sometimes called your cancellation rights.
In addition, under the terms of the Act, companies are required to assess your creditworthiness before they grant or significantly increase the level of credit available to you. They must base their assessments on appropriate information about your financial circumstances and history from both you and a credit reference agency.
This is an important part of the Act because it requires the lender to act fairly and responsibly when providing credit. If they do not, then you may have a right not to pay, and may even be entitled to compensation.
Before a regulated agreement starts, the documents sent to you must set out the nature of the agreement, the identity and address of the creditor and, if applicable, the details of any credit intermediary (such as a price comparison site). There are also certain pieces of key financial information that you must be provided with, including the type and amount of credit, the length of the agreement, the interest and charges, the total amount payable and the timings and amounts of repayments. These details must be included in a document entitled ‘Pre-Contract Information’, and this must be provided separately to the credit agreement.
How Consumer Law Barristers can help
The Consumer Credit Act is designed “for the protection of consumers”, but understanding your rights under this legislation (and other relevant areas of consumer law) can be difficult. You may be at risk of having your consumer rights violated without even realising it.
There is a lot of advice available online in user forums and social media which says you can defend your rights yourself. Unfortunately much of this information is wrong, or misleading, and often leads to an escalation of the situation to court cases which you as a consumer are unlikely to win without help.
At Consumer Law Barristers, our team of highly experienced barristers are experts in this area of the law and are here to provide consumer rights advice and representation. By defending the rights of our clients under consumer protection legislation, we have saved them more than £3 million.
Many people don’t realise that they have a right to challenge creditors and debt collectors over the sums of money they are said to owe. We ask these companies to prove that the money they are seeking is due. Often they are not able to, and without our help, our clients would have been paying for many more years.
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation if you are worried about debt. So, if you suspect that your consumer rights may have been abused, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. You won’t pay anything until we’ve assessed your circumstances and are confident that we can help – and importantly, the decision will always be your own.
You can reach us by phone on 0330 124 4252 or via email at email@example.com. However you choose to contact us, we’ll be more than happy to answer your questions and arrange a free, no obligation debt consultation.