People who have a debt management plan with Debt Help & Advice Ltd should cease making payments to the company immediately, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned.
Consumers should do the same if they have debt management plans with Primary Business Solutions Ltd and First Step Finance Ltd, who are affiliated to Debt Help & Advice Ltd. All three firms are based in Stockport.
On Tuesday (20 May) evening Debt Help & Advice Ltd announced that it had ceased trading. It is believed that between 3,000 and 3,500 customers have a plan with it or its affiliated firms. While valid debts will still need to be paid, as Debt Help & Advice Ltd is no longer operating consumers should not continue making payments to them as they will not reach their creditors.
Debt Help & Advice Ltd also uses a number of trading names, so no money should be paid to the following:
The FCA is working hard to ensure that consumers are appropriately protected and will give further updates, via its website, Twitter or further press statements, as and when they become available.
UPDATE: On Wednesday 28 May 2014 First Step Finance Limited, Primary Business Solutions Limited and Debt Help & Advice Limited were placed in administration. The joint administrators are Paul Stanley and Jason Greenhalgh of Begbies Traynor.
The login details, which are case sensitive, are as follows:
The administrators will issue statements and provide further information via this site as and when it becomes available. You can also contact the joint administrators on 0161 837 1766.
The FCA has contacted the Money Advice Service, StepChange Debt Charity and Citizens Advice to make them aware of the issue. Step Change Debt Charity and Citizens Advice offer free debt advice and are happy to take calls from affected customers who would like to discuss their options. Their contact details are:
StepChange Debt Charity: 0800 138 1111 or www.stepchange.org
Citizens Advice: 08454 040506 or www.adviceguide.org.uk
The Money Advice Service does not provide debt advice but does provide free and impartial information that can help people get on top of their debts: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/debt
The FCA is also attempting to track down the creditors of these customers to let them know the situation and will encourage them to take a sympathetic view of repayments while the situation is clarified.
The FCA took over regulation of consumer credit, which includes debt management firms, on 1 April 2014. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is not open to customers of consumer credit firms.
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