OFT Crackdown on Lead Introducers

DRF have been contacted by the OFT concerning their crackdown on businesses that introduce leads to debt solutions providers.

We have been contacted by the OFT concerning their crackdown on businesses that introduce leads to debt solutions providers. Any debt solution business that has contracted with a third party to generate client leads on their behalf must ensure that:

  • The introducer’s business is appropriately licensed – if it is generating debt management leads then the introducer must hold the debt counselling licence category
  • This requirement also applies to call centres based outside the UK –  if a service is directed at UK consumers then licensing obligations apply
  • If the introducer business is operating from websites than all domain names must be included on their consumer credit licence
  • Lead generators must also comply with Data Protection Act and relevant rules and, if they are contacting consumers directly, then they must also comply with the Information Commissioner’s Office rules governing cold calling (set out in the Privacy and Electronic Communications Rules)
  • Relevant websites must comply with the transparency provisions of the OFT’s Debt Management Guidance and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 – Any website content or other advertising (including pay-per-click) which misleads consumers into believing that the introducer offers debt solutions as opposed to collecting data and passing on leads will be in breach.


The OFT has informed the DRF that licensees (i.e. members) are responsible for undertaking due diligence checks on 3rd party associates before entering into contracts with them (and we advise that it would be prudent to repeat these checks from time to time) – failure to do so will, the OFT have informed us, have a bearing on a licensed debt management company’s fitness to retain a licence should the OFT obtain evidence that you are dealing with an unlicensed or non-compliant lead generation business.The OFT have said it will clarify its views further in its planned revision of the Debt Management Guidance (which it will consult on in early 2011). In the interim the OFT is focusing enforcement activities in this area and, they say “will not hesitate to act against debt management companies who deal with lead generators operating illegally”. It’s also worth reading the OFT’s press release from May 2009 on cold calling which can be accessed via the link below:

OFT warns debt management businesses over cold calling

DRF is considering the above and hopes shortly to provide members with a suggested compliance guideline. In the meantime, we strongly suggest members should satisfy themselves that the introducers they deal with are properly licensed and take steps to be able to show they have assessed each introducer the work with for compliance.



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