Credit card companies ordered to intervene to address persistent debt

credit cardCredit card companies will have until September of this year to implement rules designed to help people with longstanding debts, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said.

Credit card companies will have to intervene after 18 months of customers' persistent debt in an effort to try to help 3.3m Britons who have long-lasting debt problems.

Under the new rules:

  • Credit card firms will contact customers after 18 months of persistent debt, suggesting they speed up repayments, with the possibility of the card being suspended if they fail to start paying back more.
  • After three years of persistent debt, the credit card company must offer customers a way to repay their balance in a reasonable period, and could cut, waive or cancel any interest, fees or charges from that point if they are struggling to repay

The FCA study analysed the accounts of 34 million credit card customers over a period of five years, and surveyed almost 40,000 consumers. Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition, said:

'Under these new rules firms will have to help customers to break the cycle of persistent debt and ensure customers who cannot afford to repay more quickly, are given help.'

The new rules come into force on 1 March 2018, but firms have until 1 September 2018 to comply. 

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