By Claire West

The Office Of Fair Trading (OFT) today announced the closure of 19 unlicensed lead generation websites. Lead generation businesses source information from people looking for credit and sell this data on to other businesses.

The websites targeted people with disabilities, those connected to the military and people with generally limited access to credit.

An OFT investigation found they were unlicensed and therefore in breach of the Consumer Credit Act.

The sites have now been taken down by the businesses concerned or shut down with the cooperation of the website hosts.

The OFT is continuing to monitor the situation to see whether the sites reappear with different web hosts. The full list of domain names used is detailed below.

The OFT advises consumers to think carefully before putting their personal details into any lead generation website. If this information is sold on, consumers may find they are subject to unwanted contact from a number of other companies.

David Fisher, OFT Director of Consumer Credit, said:

'Websites like the ones we have shut down target vulnerable people and those who may not have easy access to credit. We advise consumers to think carefully before entering personal data into any lead generation website, in case this information is passed on without their knowledge.'