The UK’s Office of Fair Trading has refused to renew the consumer credit licences of debt purchaser HFO Capital Limited and two associated debt collectors, HFO Services Limited and Roxburghe (UK) Limited.
Alasdair Turnbull, a solicitor who acted for the group of firms, has also today been excluded from the group consumer credit licence held by the Law Society for England and Wales.
The OFT found evidence of misleading and unfair practices in the businesses’ operations, including:
sending debt collection letters which misrepresented debtors’ legal position
misleading and otherwise inappropriate behaviour by HFO and Roxburghe agents during phone calls to debtors
failing to properly investigate disputed debts
failure to respond appropriately to the concerns of regulators, including the OFT.
David Fisher, OFT Senior Director for Consumer Credit, said: “We expect businesses in the debt collection sector to behave with integrity and treat their customers fairly and transparently. We will not hesitate to refuse to license debt collection businesses that fail to do so.”
The parties have until 24 February 2014 to appeal the decision.