Find out what 'consumer credit' is and why you should check whether a firm can legally offer loans and credit business to consumers before you deal with them.
Most firms that offer goods or services on credit, lend money to consumers, or provide debt plans and advice, are offering ‘consumer credit’ products and services.
These firms include:
- credit card issuers
- credit brokers
- payday loan companies (including home collected credit)
- businesses offering hire-purchase agreements
- logbook lenders (lenders who offer loans secured against your vehicle)
- peer-to-peer lenders
- debt management and collection firms
- rent to own
- guarantor lenders
- consumer hire
We set and enforce the rules that consumer credit firms must follow.
We also aim to ensure they treat customers fairly.
Beware of upfront fees
Be clear about the likely costs, and always check the terms and conditions before going ahead.
Some consumer credit firms require customers to pay a fee before being offered a loan or credit. Please make sure you understand what you are paying an upfront fee for. Also, factor this fee into the overall cost of credit when comparing which credit product is right for you.
Be cautious if the firm also asks for your bank details. Paying an upfront fee for a loan may be a scam, especially if you have been contacted out of the blue, or the firm is not regulated by us.
Check whether a firm can offer loans and credit
The Financial Services Register lists firms that have our authorisation to offer loans and credit.
You can search the Register for a firm using the:
- firm name
- firm reference number
This will help you find out:
- whether a firm has our authorisation to offer consumer credit
- the type of activities covered by the authorisation
- the contact details, trading names and main business of a consumer credit firm
We make every effort to ensure the Register is accurate. However, some information is only updated when a firm updates the records we have for them.
If information seems to be wrong or missing, you should contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you think a firm has been offering consumer credit business without our authorisation, you should report it to us.
If you deal with a consumer credit firm that does not have our authorisation, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service if things go wrong.
Firms offering other financial services and products
The Financial Services Register also includes firms and individuals that are authorised or registered to offer other services and products, such as:
- financial services
- payment services
- electronic money
- collective investment schemes
- financial advice
- investment managers
- investment firms