Being in debt can be embarrassing. Having your personal information leaked when attempting to consolidate your debts can be devastating. UK consumers should do their homework when looking for a debt consolidation service.
The company selected should be reputable and have security and privacy measures in place that ensure the confidentiality of consumers receiving assistance. The last thing people in debt need is to have their identity stolen by someone who amasses more debt under their name.
Reputable organizations go to great lengths to ensure that consumer information is kept confidential. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, also called CCCS, offers free debt counseling and advice including an anonymous online debt counseling tool that anyone can use.
Since they are not required to provide personally identifying information, consumers need not worry about a confidentiality breach. CCCS representatives will only request personal details after a consumer decides to receive personalized debt advice or participate in a formal or informal debt consolidation program.
Some online debt management services take a self-help approach, allowing consumers to identify the program best for them. A trusted site maintains secure Internet communications and does not require consumers to provide personal information to receive details about the company or its products or services.
When it becomes necessary to supply personal details, the information is transmitted over a secured connection and maintained according to high standards of confidentiality and security.
The firm should be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which assumed management of the industry in April 2008 under the Consumer Credit Act. This agency is authorized to take licensing action against debt management companies that charge a fee to consumers if the firms are found to be in violation of its Debt Management Guidance.
Consumers who use a debt consolidation loan to improve their financial situation may feel particularly vulnerable. To obtain the loan, they are required to provide personally identifying details and information regarding income and expenses.
This usually includes account numbers and balances for credit accounts. In the wrong hands, this information could ruin a consumer because it could be used to make purchases under the individual’s name.
A debt consolidation firm, therefore, must do everything in its power to ensure that consumer information is kept confidential. In addition, a lead generation firm should never use misleading content to persuade consumers to provide personal details. This practice is considered deceptive under OFT guidelines and the agency requires that a lead generation firm have an OFT license.
The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) was created to protect the interest of lenders and consumers. Consumers should look for debt consolidation firms that are DEMSA members because these firms must comply with the highest industry standards.
A membership list including complete contact information is provided on the DEMSA website, streamlining the search process.