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Credit Services Association

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Additional Sections

Complaints Procedure

Useful Links

Making a complaint

We work hard to ensure our Members act within the rules set by the industry regulators.

Please click on the following link and read our Code of Practice. If you think a Member has broken the rules of this Code you can make a complaint by downloading our Complaints Form.

Before making a complaint we would encourage you to carry out the following activities:

 

  • Go to the Members Directory and check whether the company you wish to complain about is a Member of the CSA. If you are still unsure, feel free to contact us. If the company is a Member of the CSA then we are able to help you with your complaint.
  • On first instance, we recommend you contact the Member company to discuss any issues you have and enquire about their complaints process. If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome then you can review our Complaints Procedure.
  • If you believe that the Member has acted in breach of our Code of Practice and the complaint meets the necessary criteria, please complete, sign and return the Complaint Form to our registered address.

CSA Complaints Procedure

 How we deal with your complaint.

All complaints must be submitted in writing, with a signed complaint form. We require the form to be signed so that we, and our Member, have the requisite authorisation to share information.

The following is the sequence of events after the CSA receive a complaint form;

  • CSA receive a signed complaint form
  • CSA register the complaint and send a copy to the relevant Member company
  • The Member is given four weeks to respond directly to the complainant
  • CSA get a copy of the response from the Member company
  • CSA considers both positions and determines whether the Code of Practice has been breached
  • Appropriate action is taken (if required) to remedy the situation
  • If further information is required the CSA contact the relevant party (the complainant or the Member company).
  • After a full review, the CSA provides a formal response to the complainant

 

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of the complaint, you may have justification to escalate the matter to our our head of compliance, Claire Aynsley, claire.aynsley@csa-uk.com.

 

Please note: The CSA can only intervene when;

  • a Member company is in breach of the Code.
  • the company is a Member of the CSA (we cannot act when the complaint is about the client of a Member company, a bank or building society for example).
  • the information supplied by a Member company appears from the facts to be incorrect.

Methods of Contact

 

Address

Credit Services Association

Complaints Department

2 Esh Plaza

Sir Bobby Robson Way

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

NE13 9BA

 

Why the CSA need a signed copy of your complaint

 

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16-05-2017

Blog: 'Persistent misuse’: insight into Ofcom’s revised Statement of Policy

Eric Bash, Principal of Ofcom’s Consumer Group, spoke at the Credit Services Association’s Annual Members’ Meeting earlier this year about Ofcom’s revised statement of policy on ‘persistent misuse’. This was the first talk given by Ofcom since the revised policy was published in November 2016 and provided CSA members with valuable insight into how to prepare for its introduction on 1 March 2017.

 

The Communications Act 2003 empowers Ofcom to take action against those engaged in ‘persistent misuse’ of an electronic communications network or service. Misuse is defined as use of a network causing, or being likely to cause, annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety to consumers. Persistent means this kind of misuse being repeated enough to represent a pattern of behaviour or practice or recklessness about whether others suffer relevant harm.

These terms are defined by statute, not Ofcom. In the revised policy statement, Ofcom gives examples of conduct that could constitute misuse, as well as examples of conduct that might aggravate the consumer harm caused by any persistent misuse, and thus enhance the likelihood that Ofcom would take action.

The statement identifies calls at ‘unsociable hours’ as more harmful to consumers, and therefore more likely to be the subject of enforcement action. For example, calling a consumer repeatedly, or for marketing purposes, in the middle of the night.

It is down to companies to determine, against this backdrop, their appropriate course of action in terms of what conduct would constitute misuse.

Under the Act, the maximum penalty is £2m and Ofcom is required to prepare and publish a policy statement with respect to exercise of its powers.

 

What is the evidence of harm caused by ‘persistent misuse’?

At Ofcom, we receive around 4,000 complaints per month with silent calls being the most complained about. We also carry out consumer research which shows that of the 4.8bn calls received by landline telephones per year, 1.5bn are silent, 200m are abandoned, and 943m are recorded.

 

Why has Ofcom revised its policy statement on ‘persistent misuse’?

Our policy statement on ‘persistent misuse’ hadn’t been updated since 2010 and it needed updating to ensure that it is as effective as possible at reducing calls that cause the greatest harm to consumers and making enforcement more targeted. We issued a consultation in December 2015 and worked with a wide range of stakeholders on a revised policy.

 

What will this mean for the debt collection sector?

The main focus of the policy on the debt collection sector is on silent and abandoned telephone calls and our prioritisation of enforcement action wherever forms of misuse cause significant consumer harm.

A calling party, such as a call centre, can be liable for persistent misuse caused by it; a company that engages someone else, such as a call centre, to make calls on its behalf can also be liable. This means that a debt collector that make calls for an entity owed a debt can be liable for misuse; the entity owed the debt that engaged the debt collector to make calls on its behalf can be liable for misuse; and a call centre engaged by either to make calls on its behalf can be liable for misuse. Where more than one entity is involved in causing calls to be made, Ofcom would determine on a case-by-case basis which entity is the appropriate target in any investigation. It is up to all parties engaged in calls to have effective practices and procedures in place, and to ensure that they are adhered to, monitored, and regularly reviewed, in order to minimise misuse.

A campaign in the debt collection context could be calling activity on behalf of a single client. If multiple call centres are calling on behalf of that single client, they would be part of a single campaign.

In the development of the revised policy, we took on board the Credit Services Association’s concerns that proposals to impose zero tolerance on abandoned calls would make the compliant use of automated dialling systems impossible and instead said that we will apply the statutory definitions of both persistence and misuse on a case-by-case basis. We will focus on where consumer harm is greatest, with initial determination based on complaints and traffic volume.

Firms will need to carefully consider how their practices will be considered by us, rather than just taking a ‘tick box’ approach to compliance. The policy also covers ‘agent behaviour’ which firms will need to take account of in line with other forms of regulation (see how we will work with other regulators below).

 

How will breaches of the new policy be investigated and enforced?

Enforcement will be based on the level of risk to consumers from the misconduct and misconduct that is repeated and deliberate.

We will investigate suspected cases of ‘persistent misuse’ by gathering evidence of calling activity and looking at policies and procedures for managing silent/abandoned calls and complaints. We will then assess this evidence and provide a provisional decision to the firm, before making a final decision and issuing a penalty.

Because of how easy and inexpensive it is to make large volumes of calls, particularly automated calls, the size of a company may have little bearing on the degree to which its activity causes harm. A large, well-run call centre may generate a smaller volume of problematic calls than a badly run small call centre. In such cases, the small call centre is causing more harm.

 

How will Ofcom work with other regulators?

Where the conduct at issue might violate standards enforced by another regulator, Ofcom would ordinarily consult with the other regulator in advance of an investigation to determine which regulator is better positioned to address the conduct. For example, as is explained in the revised policy statement, although the same conduct may constitute both persistent misuse (subject to enforcement by Ofcom) and a breach of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation (2003) (subject to enforcement by the Information Commissioner’s Office, or ICO), Ofcom would usually consult with the ICO to determine which authority is best placed to take the most appropriate course of action.

 

What else is Ofcom doing to reduce harm to consumers?

As well as reacting to policy breaches, we will be taking a proactive approach to reducing harm to consumers as a result of ‘persistent misuse’ by engaging with communications providers to block calls and consulting on consumer protection General Conditions.