A UK Parliamentary committee blasted the Office of Fair Trading -- a consumer watchdog agency that is supposed to regulate moneylenders -- for doing effectively nothing to curb the growth of usurious, predatory moneylenders who attack poor and vulnerable people. There are 72,000 consumer credit firms in the UK, some chargin annual interest rates of 4,000%, but the OFT has never fined a single firm for breaking lending rules. On some rare occasions, it did shut down firms, but did nothing to stop them from reopening immediately under another name.
This week the charity Citizens Advice said it knew of cases where loans had been given to under-18s, to people with mental health issues, and to people who were drunk at the time of securing the loan. One client who took out a £50 loan was targeted with emails and texts offering more cash and ended up with debts of £800.
"Some of these lenders use predatory techniques to target vulnerable people on low incomes, encouraging them to take out loans which when rolled over with extra interest rapidly become out of control debts," the committee's chair, Margaret Hodge, said. "Meanwhile, the OFT has been ineffective and timid in the extreme. It passively waits for complaints from consumers before acting."
PAC's report said the OFT lacked information on how much lending was being done by each firm, and about how different people used consumer credit. A study commissioned from the National Audit Office suggested the scale of consumer harm was at least £450m a year, but the OFT was accused of lacking detailed information on the types of harm suffered by different groups of borrowers.
OFT criticised over 'ineffectual' payday loans policing [Hilary Osborne/The Guardian]
(Image: La Danse macabre, Guy Marchant/Wikimedia Commons)
On January 17, 2017 — yes, 2017 — the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: “Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system.”
Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer who works for Andela, a technology company backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded to give talented African coders an entree into the leading American tech firms; this week, he flew to the USA on a B1/B2 visa to meet with the company, but he found himself detained […]
Spiral Toys — a division of Mready, a Romanian electronics company that lost more than 99% of its market-cap in 2015 — makes a line of toys called “Cloudpets,” that use an app to allow parents and children to exchange voice-messages with one another. They exposed a database of millions of these messages, along with […]
Wireless headphones aren’t a mind-bending thing anymore now that Apple made them the standard thing-to-be-outraged-over-in-the-new-iPhone fare, thereby killing the cool factor. But let’s be reasonable here. Wires really are a pain when you’re running, trying to get off the bus, or even just standing up from your desk. Wireless headphones make sense, they just don’t […]
Python is such a commonly used general-purpose programming language and features such (comparatively) simple syntax, that most veteran programmers consider it an excellent foundation for aspiring programmers. The Python 3 Bootcamp Bundle packs over 30 hours of training into nine courses to build that foundation for you.If you’ve never had any introduction to code at […]