A couple of major stories have dominated the news in October, one of which was our Got Their Number campaign, which tackles the harm caused by nuisance calls and texts.
We had coverage all over the media, including the Daily Mail which picked up on our efforts to end the misery caused by these calls and texts. Add your voice to the campaign and tell us your experiences of this problem.
Energy bills and the big six
The other major story was the backlash against the rising price of energy which is becoming an increasing problem. Energy bosses were even called before Parliament on the issue.
The Guardian reported that the big six energy providers had raised prices despite a drop in wholesale costs. We’d always recommend that you check to see if you can swap to a cheaper deal if you’re struggling with energy bills. Find out how much you could save with our utility switching service.
Benefit delays and food banks
The benefits cap has come under some scrutiny, while the new Personal Independence Payment is set to be delayed because the Government hasn’t had time to assess all claimants in time.
If you’re worried about the recent changes to the benefit system or just want to check you’re claiming all you’re entitled to, try our online benefits check. According to the Government, between 2009-10 people in the UK missed out on benefits and tax credits worth more than £10 billion. It’s worth checking.
On top of the changes to benefits there have also been reports that the number of people relying on food banks is set to triple in a year.
Payday lending in the headlines
StepChange Debt Charity supported Paul Blomfield’s Payday charter which calls on the Government to get tough on payday lenders. Labour leader Ed Miliband has even called for higher taxes on payday lenders, to help fund credit unions.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now proposed new regulation for these lenders, now under consultation. Part of the regulation includes unlimited fines for the “naughtiest” lenders.
Many people don’t realise that by taking out a payday loan you often give the lender access to your bank account. We’ve blogged before about how you can cancel a continuous payment authority (CPA) from a payday lender but there have been calls for the use of CPAs by lenders to be outlawed.
Credit unions are also starting to offer a very real alternative to payday loans, but with more affordable interest rates.
OFT shuts down fee-charging debt management companies
The Office of Fair Trading shut down three different debt management companies in October. The OFT found, among other things, that one company in particular was engaging in a number of unfair business practices. These included providing misleading and inaccurate information to consumers and failing to implement proper practices and procedures.
Banks and bills
Clydesdale Bank also hit trouble when it was forced to pay an 8.9 million pound fine after giving incorrect information when selling mortgage products. Clydesdale is set to pay compensation to customers.
And a man who received a phone bill for £65,000 describes his frustration and anxiety as he tried to resolve what he know was an error.
We came across a case where a bank asked to speak to the account holder over the phone. Not usually a problem, unless it’s an under 16s bank account opened for a baby. Staff were adamant that they could only speak with six-month old Harry. Unfortunately for frustrated Mum Jenny, Harry hasn’t started speaking yet, although his first words might still be “complaint!”