Ombudsman takes on credit disputes

19 August 2004
The government has announced that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will soon be able to settle even more credit disputes.

From April 2006 members of the public will be able to take their grievances about credit agreements to the FOS for a ruling.

The Ombudsman will be able to hear cases such as those where consumers feel they are paying for charges they were not properly made aware of. Interest rate disputes would also be heard if consumers believe their agreement is unfair.

"The government is undertaking a massive shake-up of the consumer credit industry to ensure the market becomes more transparent, fairer and trusted," said consumer affairs minister, Gerry Sutcliffe.

"Resolving disputes fairly and quickly is a vital part of this process. Taking disputes to court can often be off-putting and intimidating for consumers as well as expensive, time-consuming and stressful for business."

Mr Sutcliffe feels the new system will provide "a much-needed and approachable alternative to court".

The National Consumer Council has welcomed the move.

"This is an important step forward in modernising Britain's outdated credit laws and a lifeline for borrowers in dispute with their lender," said Claire Whyley, deputy director of policy at the NCC.
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