FCA has banned the 4 former directors of a now-dissolved credit broker, Secure My Money Limited. It found the firm misled customers into thinking they had been approved for short term loans and as a result took fees of over £7.2m from around 124,000 online customers. The failings happened over an 8 month period. Customers visiting the site were told they had been approved for loans and asked to enter card details to “verify their accounts”. There was no loan and no verification, but a charge of up to £100 to the card, which consumers were usually unaware would be made, was levied. The failings began in late 2013, before FCA took over consumer credit regulation. In May 2014 it asked the firm to take down the relevant sites. It took down only the homepage, knowing that customers usually arrived via other pages, which continued to operate and the firm continued to take money from new customers and then started also to charge a monthly fee, which it also backdated in the knowledge this contravened customer terms and conditions. Also, customers were sometimes redirected to other credit broker websites which as a result also had their personal data. This led to many marketing calls, and sometimes charges from more than one broker.
FCA has imposed the strongest penalty it could, given the failings occurred before it acquired the power to impose fines on individuals at consumer credit firms. The Insolvency Service has also banned the individuals from being directors for periods of between 5-8 years, while the FCA bans remain for life.