DTI takes credit inquiries to public

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The Independent Online
OFFICIALS from the Office of Fair Trading should brace themselves for a spirited debate when they meet the public later this month to hear views on the Consumer Credit Act.

The first of two public hearings will be in London on 27 and 28 October. The second will be in Leeds on 2 November. The sessions, the first of their type that the OFT has held, are being conducted as part of a wide-ranging review of credit legislation. The aim is to remove some of its red tape.

Among those planning to give evidence are an elderly London woman who faced the possibility of court proceedings that could have resulted in her losing her home. It was jointly owned with her son, who had built up debts of several thousand pounds. The debts were not secured but creditors can attempt possession of property in cases where they have failed to recover a debt by other means. It is an extreme move and in this case the woman and her son came to an agreement with the bank and there is now no threat to their home. But the experience has shaken her.

'I think the bank had a responsibility not to let my son build up so much debt. He is not highly paid.'

Last week the OFT said it might tighten up rules on overdrafts as part of the review. This might lead to more rights for individuals and businesses over the withdrawal of their overdraft facilities.

The London hearings will be at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge SE1 at 10am. The Leeds hearing will be at the Department of Trade and Industry, 25 Queen Street starting at 10.45am.