Peter Wallwork, Chief Executive of the Credit Services Association (CSA) has again called for the adoption of a Code of Practice as the de facto best practice ‘standard’ across all sectors and organisations collecting consumer debts.
Whereas agencies collecting financial services debts are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and adhere to the CSA Code, there is neither a single Code nor a single regulator, for debts that fall outside of those that used to be governed by a consumer credit license.
Wallwork says this adds to the real possibility of consumer detriment and confusion: “It means customers dealing with Utility firms, Central Government, Local Authorities and even some telecoms companies and mail order firms are not guaranteed the same standards of treatment or safeguards as those managed by FCA-authorised CSA members.”
Speaking at the Utility Week Consumer Debt Collection Conference in February, Wallwork said that while some Utility regulators, and notably OFWAT, have been quick to recognise the work of the CSA in treating customers fairly, others have been slower to engage: “The CSA Code was the basis of the original OFT Guidance on debt collection, and the more recent FCA Consumer Credit handbook (CONC). There is good logic, therefore, to have one Standard that can be consistently applied across all areas of consumer collections. The CSA Code of Practice could become the common denominator across all collections activities.”