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Credit Services Association

2 Esh Plaza

Sir Bobby Robson Way

Great Park

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE13 9BA

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

 

Top

16-02-2016

Blog: How can we improve fairness in government debt collection?

Claire Aynsley is Head of Regulatory and Compliance Standards at the Credit Services Association. Since joining the organisation over 10 years ago, her dedication and passion for the industry have greatly enhanced the status of the Association, forging strong relationships with regulatory bodies and other industry stakeholders to ensure we are at the forefront of any regulatory and legislative changes.

 

Last month, Citizens Advice published a report on fairness in government debt collection after it emerged that the number of related issues they were dealing with had doubled between 2005/6 and 2014/15. The report highlighted issues such as there being no consistent approach to assessing affordability and poor communication and practice that was leaving vulnerable customers in even worse financial difficulty. Now, money saving expert Martin Lewis and debt charity StepChange are calling on the government to give all people struggling with temporary debt ‘breathing space’ so that they can pay for essentials like food.

The collection of public sector debt is not regulated which ultimately means there are no rules or regulation to follow or adhere to. It’s clear therefore that debt collection practice in this sector is lagging behind the utilities and financial services sectors (which are both heavily regulated) but what can be done to improve things?

 

Adopt a debt collection industry-wide Code of Practice

We were disappointed that the report didn’t mention the Credit Services Association’s long-standing Code of Practice, especially since its recommendations included a publicly available best practice debt collection protocol. Whilst many of our Member companies have now been through authorisation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), our Code of Practice is not just for authorised firms. It is designed as an industry-wide best practice model that, if taken up more widely, will ensure consistently high standards. This consistency is important for customers so that they know what their rights are and how they will be treated when faced with any kind of debt.

Our current Code of Practice is currently under review and being updated to broaden its scope from being just about collection practices to focusing more about general good business practice. This is all about trying to get businesses and organisations to take responsibility for themselves and self-regulate, rather than just relying on what they have to do to comply with regulation. It means that businesses and organisations will be forced to look at the way they deal with their customers and make sure that they are doing what is right and fair.

Big changes have taken place across the debt collection industry in recent years and we want to encourage continuous improvement to make sure that, whatever sector you are operating in, you are upholding the highest standards.

 

Assess affordability as standard

Properly assessing affordability is key to ensuring that all customers are treated fairly and that those in financial difficulty are not left in situations where they can’t afford basics like food. The government doesn’t and shouldn’t want people to suffer as a result of settling debts. We make reference to the Common Financial Statement in our Code of Practice which is a universal tool for assessing affordability. It is currently being rejuvenated to become the Standard Financial Statement, which will include new sections in relation to things like savings. Those working in government collections need to be encouraged to use this and boost it with their own additional assessments of affordability as many debt collection agencies do.

 

Make ‘breathing space’ a requirement

We welcome Martin Lewis/StepChange’s call to allow customers in financial difficulty ‘breathing space’. This is a requirement for all our Members within our Code of Practice and there is no reason it shouldn’t be happening across the board. Our Members who work with government must provide breathing space to customers even if government clients tell them not to and we are working with the likes of HMRC to demonstrate the business case for this.

We would always encourage breathing space where financial difficulty is apparent. For government agencies and authorities, there is no point in generating lots of disputes, which costs time and money when customers can be engaged with more effectively. Of course, it only makes business sense to do this in cases where there is genuine hardship and that’s why formally assessing affordability is so important.

We know that conversations are happening within government about making ‘breathing space’ mandatory and this is a great step forward.

 

Encourage greater take up of learning and development

Our industry leading learning and development programmes are open to all and have a significant impact on raising standards of debt collection practice. We’d like to see more government collections professionals taking up opportunities such as our annual Collector Accreditation Initiative (CAI), which tests those within the organisation responsible for debt collection to ensure they are up to date with the latest regulatory and general best practices. We also encourage attendance from this sector to our annual flagship conference – the UK Credit and Collections Conference (UKCCC) – where attendees hear from expert speakers on industry-related topics covering regulation and compliance and also offer the opportunity to network with industry stakeholders and peers.

 

Collaborate with other sectors

As the UK trade body for the debt collection sector, our Membership is made up of a broad church of collections professionals and specialist agencies working in a wide range of sectors. Our conferences and events provide firms with the opportunity to share best practice and we’d welcome the chance to work with Citizen’s Advice, StepChange and others to help improve fairness in government debt collection.