Are Ffrees Loans UK contacting you about an outstanding loan you have with them? Do you believe that these loans are unaffordable? Are they saying they plan to take you to court over the debt? Was the loan unaffordable, and should never have been given to you in the first place? If these problems with Ffrees Loans UK sound familiar, then you need to read this article. You might be able to cancel your loan and even obtain a refund.
It’s not your fault. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Deal with your debt today and feel better tomorrow.
Who are Ffrees Loans?
Ffrees is an online banking current account. The banking services are provided by CONTIS Financial Services Limited. They are a UK based private limited company located in the Skipton area and have been operating since 2007.
Read what to do if you can’t pay back your debt.
Are Ffrees Credible?
Ffrees is not itself regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and does not hold any money. Any money paid into a Ffrees account is held in trust by Contis Financial Services Ltd in a UK account of a UK authorised bank. Contis itself is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide this intermediator service. CONTIS Financial Services do not offer any loan products or any credit facilities. CONTIS Financial Services are a small company with a turnover of less than £10 million per annum and are a profitable company.
What do the reviews say about Frees?
Ffrees has a very poor reputation online, mainly following failures that resulting in customers being unable to access accounts and their handling of a security incident where customer data was allegedly stolen. In the former incident, accounts were inaccessible for several days. In the later, Ffrees Family Finance Ltd notified the Information Commissioners Office of a data breach but affected customers have claimed that they were never notified by the company that their personal information, including driving licence and passport details, had been stolen. Ffrees also attract negative reviews for the fees that they charge for services including withdrawing money from the account or transferring funds between bank accounts. Interestingly they do not offer faster payments, payments out are next day for which a fee of £2.50 is charged. There is even a fee for closing the account.
Are loan companies lending money to the wrong people?
Although it can be difficult to get loans from banks and other financial institutions, it is often easy to get it from other lending companies. You don’t need to look far to find companies who are offering loans, and often to people who can’t afford it. They entice customers in by promising to ‘give a cash advance in minutes’, ‘approve loans of up to £1,500 in seconds’ and ‘offer loans to people with a poor credit score.’ If you are already facing financial difficulties and you are offered a loan, this can seem to tempting to resist!
Why do people get into debt and what are the government doing to combat it?
With all these alluring messages, it is no wonder that so many people are getting into debt problems with these organisations. The situation has vastly improved from where it was a few years ago. The loan industry was getting out of hand, and it has improved greatly from where it was just a few years ago business was spiralling out of control. As a consequence, debt problems were also spiralling. The loan market was once worth over £2 billion, as a result of lenders giving money to those who couldn’t afford it, and charging extremely high and unaffordable interest rates.
The Financial Conduct Authority studied the issues around lenders, and this ended up with huge fines being issues on many of the most well known lending companies. Wonga were just one who were fined £220 million, and consequently, went bust! Others included The Money Shop and Quickquid, who were also fined millions of pounds. If it was found that the money had been issued to people who could not realistically afford to pay it back due to their “limited criteria”, the customers ended up being offered a refund. This treatment may have seemed harsh, but it did work and following the three years from the regulation being brought into force, the number of loans being issued dropped from 10 million to 1.8 million and the number of lenders also fell from 240 to 60.
Are you due a refund? Read through the next section in which we look at these new rules in some detail. If Ffrees Loans UK is in breach YOU MAY BE DUE A REFUND EVEN IF YOU HAVE PAID OFF THE LOAN.
Loan interest and charges – the government caps
The Financial Conduct Authority has put price caps in place, with the purpose of trying to protect borrowers from being given excessive charges. These price caps include:
- 0.8% daily cost cap on the sum borrowed – this also includes any interest and all fees charged.
- default fees cap of £15 – interest may still be charged after a default, but it cannot be more than the original rate of 0.8% per day.
- Complete cost cap of 100% – this rule means that you should not be charged over 100% of the money borrowed.
The limits apply to credit agreements which have an interest rate of 100% or more each year and that will either be fully or almost repaid within a year.
There are also other regulations which were brought into force in May 2017. According to these, lenders must provide details of their products on a price comparison website, which should be authorised by the FCA. Borrowers must also be given a summary of the total cost of the borrowing.
If Ffrees Loans UK are found to be in breach of these regulations and they are trying to charge you more than they should, your credit agreement will become unenforceable and they will be unable to force you to repay the loan.
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It may be hard to believe, but there are actually loan companies out there who are operating as a business, when they are not authorised to do this. According to the law, only authorised companies are permitted to make certain credit agreements. If the company is not authorised, they will not be able to enforce repayments. This means that you could realistically just stop paying them, and they won’t be able to to do anything about it.
You have the right to check whether Ffrees Loans UK is authorised, if you wish to do so, and you can do this by entering the name of the company on this Interim Permission Consumer Credit Register search page. You will also be able to search the financial services register here. If you cannot see a valid up to date entry on either of these registers, you will be able to just stop paying, and they won’t be able to do anything about it.
Other signs that Ffrees Loans are not operating legally include a lack of information visible on the website, information which appears to be website out of date or information which is different on the various directories and websites. If they fail to disclose the APR, this may be another sign that all is not what it seems!
I want to make a complaint about Ffrees Loans UK
If you feel that Ffrees Loans UK are failing to abide by the regulations and they are treating you unfairly, you can make a formal complaint against them. If they do not deal with your dispute within eight weeks, you have the right to take it higher, and this involves reporting them to the Financial Ombudsman.
In order to do this, you will need to supply evidence. This may include text messages you have received or phone calls. If you deem that these are excessive or the content is abusive, you can make a complaint. It is important to compile as much evidence related to your claim as possible. You may also want to add some information about how you expect them to resolve the situation.
If Ffrees Loans UK do not provide you with satisfactory conclusion, you have the right to take it to the financial ombudsman. You can contact them by phone on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
If Ffrees Loans UK are found to have treated you unfairly, you may have the right to receive a refund even if the loan has been completed paid off within the last six years. If this is the case, you may be refunded any interest you have paid on the loan, together with any additional charges. You may also receive 8% interest on these payments.
If your loan is found to have been unaffordable, you can request that it is removed from your credit record and the outstanding balance may also be cancelled.
In the first instance, you should write to your lender stating your case and your request for compensation.
If they fail to offer you a satisfactory response within 8 weeks, you have the right to take it further by reporting them to the Financial Ombudsman by phone on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123.
The Continuous Payment Authority and the new rules
The Continuous Payment Authority (CPA) is used by most lenders as a way for you to pay them back. With a CPA, the company will have the right to take money from your account at any time, until the balance is cleared. They should let you know about their plans to do this, so that you are prepared, but many don’t, for fear that you remove the money from your account. If you are not aware, you may end up with your wages being taken out your account, as soon as you receive your pay.
If the money is taken by Ffrees Loans UK before your bills come out, and you are left with nothing, this can obviously leave you in a very difficult situation.
This was the case, but new regulations around CPA have been brought in, and this has greatly changed what lenders can and can’t do. According to these new rules, if the CPA fails twice, they can’t make any further requests to take the money from your account.
Another important rule change regarding the CPA is that they can’t take partial payments. If you don’t have enough funds to pay the full amount, they must not take any payment at all. You can reach an agreement with the lender, whereby, you allow them to take partial payments, but this must be in place, otherwise, they are breaching the guidelines. If you have not given them permission and they do this, you can seek advice.
If you have found that they have made two requests for payment, or they have taken a partial payment and you have not given them explicit permission, they will be in breach of regulations. You may wish to escalate this by contacting the financial ombudsman on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123 and reporting such behaviour.
I can’t afford to repay the loan – what can I do?
If Ffrees Loans UK are found to have acted legitimately but you are just not in a position to repay the loan and you have a payment plan set up, there are some steps you can take.
If you have a CPA set up, a standing order or direct debit, you will be able to contact your bank and get these cancelled. Ffrees Loans UK will not be able to attempt to collect payments automatically and you will have your bank account back in safe hands. It is advisable to speak to Ffrees Loans UK and inform them that you have cancelled, or that you plan to, but you do not have a legal obligation to do this. In this case, they will be unable to take any further payments from you unless you give them permission to do so.
Cancelling doesn’t stop you owing the debt though, it will just give you a bit of a break while you devise another plan – which you will be required to do. Speak to Ffrees Loans UK about your situation, and let them know what you want to do to move forward with your payments. For instance, do you need a short reprieve from the payment plan, or perhaps you would like to reduce the monthly payment. Whatever you decide, they are obliged to treat you fairly and to agree to discuss other options with you.
According to the law lenders must:
- Give you some advice on where to find free independent debt advice
- Hold off debt recovery, giving you a reasonable amount of time to repay the loan. This may involve developing a suitable repayment plan, where necessary
- Freeze interest and charges, where possible
Why you don’t want to roll the loan over
Ffrees Loans UK may say that it’s a good idea to roll over the loan, but doing so would be a bad idea, as it could make your situation worse. The reason being that you will be charged interest and additional charges which will plunge you deeper into debt. The law states that loans must not be rolled over more than twice.
Can you get debt help
Thankfully, no matter how bad your circumstances may be, there are various organisations that can provide you with free independent advice on debt. These include:
Should you trust loan companies?
We tend to think of all loan companies as being bad, and just trying to get our money, no matter what the costs. Of course, this is the case a lot of the time, but some loan companies also offer a valuable service which provides credit to people who would be unable to obtain credit in the standard ways, such as banks. If the companies put their profits before everything else and don’t take their customers situations into account, this is when they cross the line and become something completely unethical. While some bad lenders are still out there, the new regulations have made the legislation and regulations much tighter. This hasn’t stopped so many people getting into debt though.
If Ffrees Loans UK are found to be in breach of the regulations, you would be entitled not to pay them, as the debt would have become unenforceable. If you are just not able to pay, you should consider contacted one of the organisations we have listed above, they will be willing to offer you advice to get your finances back on track.
If you can’t pay back your loan do check out my other article here.