Freephone number to empower consumers

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says a new freephone number will help empower and protect consumers from being preyed on by unscrupulous loan companies.
Hon Chris Tremain
Minister of Consumer Affairs


7 February 2012 Media Statement
Freephone number to empower consumers

Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says a new freephone number will help empower and protect consumers from being preyed on by unscrupulous loan companies.

The freephone number 0800 LOAN STRESS was launched today. It will give consumers better access to services to help them clearly understand their rights and resolve disputes with finance companies.

“Too many consumers are being treated unfairly by their loan providers,” says Mr Tremain.

“We hear stories of people losing their jobs and finance companies still expecting them to repay their loans at the same rate. In other cases finance companies are repossessing vital household items, despite consumers only taking on loans of $1000 or less.

“This type of behaviour is not okay. With 0800 LOAN STRESS we are empowering people to make a complaint and seek protection when they are getting a raw deal from loan providers.”

Since December 2010 all loan providers have had to belong to an independent dispute resolution scheme, which is free for their customers to use, says Mr Tremain.

“0800 LOAN STRESS will make it easier for consumers to get access to these schemes and gain the confidence they need to protect themselves.”

The Government is continuing to look at ways to protect borrowers from unscrupulous lenders, and last year announced an overhaul of consumer credit laws to further increase consumer protections. Proposed changes include new responsible lending requirements, amendments to the oppressive credit contracts and hardship provisions, and restrictions on financial providers who do not belong to an approved dispute resolution scheme.

The Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Bill will be introduced to Parliament later this year. As the matters involved are complex, the Government intends to release a draft Bill for consultation before introducing the final legislation to Parliament. Consultation will involve a broad range of meetings by the Minister in key locations around New Zealand.

Call 0800 LOAN STRESS (0800 562 6787) or visit www.loanstress.govt.nz.

ENDS

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