Whilst the law relating to consumer credit is complete in itself, containing all the legislative requirements within the Consumer Credit Act, a few other items of legislation are pertinent to consumer and trade credit in addition to its every day application.
This Act outlaws any discrimination relating to gender. It applies to applications for credit in any form, including any mortgage To discriminate between male and female irrespective of the applicant’s ability to meet the normal lending criteria of a finance house is deemed to be a breach of the Act. Infringing the covenant of the Act can lead to a claim for damages. The Act is administered by the Equal Opportunities Commission to which any infringement of rights should be reported.
Discrimination on the grounds of race is also forbidden when offering or granting credit, and an identical set of rules to those above are incorporated within the relevant race relations Acts. The Acts prohibit the use of discrimination by sex or race in either direct or indirect forms. Direct discrimination is where credit is generally available to all, but applications of a certain sex or race are asked to provide extra requirements, for example:
• a guarantor
• other form of security
• a more substantial deposit than normal
Indirect discrimination occurs when a lender slants their requirements for granting credit in a way which prevents certain sections of the community acquiring credit, or it is offered to them on more restrictive terms. Again, firms which operate such policies leave themselves open to claims for compensation.
Data Protection Act
All firms which hold personal information on computer are affected by the Data Protection Act 1984. These businesses must register with the Data Protection Agency, and are committed to uphold the principles of the Act.
Under the terms of the Data Protection Act members of the public have the right to obtain details of any information about them which is held on computer. In the event that information held is incorrect, they can have the matter redressed. A list of agencies which supply individuals with information held on computers concerning themselves can be found in the Useful Addresses section.
Applying to employers for confirmation of employment for credit applications is restricted by the Act. Personal information held on computer in a personnel department cannot be divulged. Only verification that the applicant is employed, and length of service, will be forthcoming.