By Daniel Hunter

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has decided that Yes Loans Limited, one of the UK's largest brokers of unsecured credit, is unfit to hold a consumer credit licence, as are two associated businesses, Blue Sky Personal Finance Limited and Money Worries Limited.

The decision to revoke the licences was taken in light of evidence that Yes Loans has failed to comply with the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and associated regulations, and with requirements previously imposed by the OFT.

The OFT found evidence that Yes Loans had engaged in unfair business practices, including:

- using high pressure sales tactics to persuade consumers to provide their debit or credit card details on the false premise that they were required for an identity and/or security check

- deducting brokerage fees without making it clear that a fee was payable, and/or without the consumer's consent

- failing to introduce some consumers to the product originally sought, frequently arranging short-term, high interest, loans instead

- misleading consumers into believing it was a loan provider rather than a credit broker

- treating customers poorly by not providing refunds in a timely manner.

Following the OFT's investigation, Yes Loans made a number of changes to how it operates, including no longer charging upfront fees. A number of other associated companies also surrendered or withdrew their consumer credit licences or applications.

Despite these changes, the OFT determined that the evidence of prolonged engagement in deceitful and oppressive business practices, and the continuing presence of some of the staff responsible for running the businesses, makes them unfit to hold a consumer credit licence.

"We will take decisive action to tackle businesses that fail to treat people properly, especially the most vulnerable," David Fisher, Director of Consumer Credit at the OFT, said.

"This action also makes it clear that belatedly changing business practices when facing the prospect of enforcement action by the OFT does not make a company fit to hold a credit licence."

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