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Citizens Advice Bureaux - Credit For Reforms

Citizens Advice Bureaux Give Government Credit For Reforms

The New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux has welcomed the government’s proposed changes to the consumer credit law, saying it will provide consumers with better information and greater protection from unscrupulous lenders.

Association CEO, Nick Toonen, said today the Association’s 88 Citizens Advice Bureaux will be delighted that consumer credit law will be strengthened. “Many of our clients are on low incomes and because of the pressures on their finances, sometimes need credit to get by day to day. In 2000, our bureaux received over 10,000 enquiries and complaints about financial matters, including hire purchase, credit charges and loans, and over 6,000 calls from people facing debt problems. We see a need for both improved information and stronger enforcement.

“In our experience, people often go to ‘lenders of last resort’ and are consequently overburdened by credit payments and high interest rates. It is vital that consumer credit law puts an obligation on dealers to better inform consumers on the full and true cost of credit and ensures that dealers can’t hide crucial details in the small print. The proposed legislation appears to be heading in this direction.

Mr Toonen said the proposal to empower the Commerce Commission so that it can investigate the activities of lenders, and take action against lenders who rip people off, is long overdue.

“Bureaux already work closely with the Commission on a range of consumer protection and enforcement issues and look forward to continuing this with the Commission’s new role.”

Mr Toonen said the consultation over the changes to the credit law was well conducted and allowed time for organisations to think and respond to the various aspects of the proposed changes.

“We have presented four submissions over the two-year consultation period and believe the process has had integrity and has therefore delivered good results,” said Mr Toonen.


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