The payday lender Wonga has been criticised by the Office of Fair Trading for accusing some of its own customers of being fraudsters.
The watchdog censured the high-cost lender – which quotes APRs higher than 4,000 per cent – for using questionable debt-collection practices. Aggressive letters and emails were sent to customers who had asked their card providers to reverse a payment made to Wonga.
They were also sent to hard-up people who had started debt-management plans in an attempt to stop their debts spiralling out of control.
David Fisher, the OFT's director of consumer credit, said: "We have acted to ensure that Wonga does not behave this way again. I would like to make it clear to businesses that they must not adopt aggressive or misleading practices with their customers." He said Wonga could be fined up to £50,000 if it was caught using such tactics again.
The lender said it believed it had grounds for suspecting dishonest conduct by the customers to whom letters were sent. "However, they were sent on isolated occasions more than 18 months ago and have not been sent since that time," a Wonga spokesman said. He said the tone of the letters "fell below our usual high standards".Reuse content